The major home improvement and appliance retail chain Lowe’s announced in a press release last Thursday that it was introducing a paid parental leave benefit for full-time employees, both salaried and hourly, as well as expanding eligibility for its health insurance plan:
In addition to the company’s comprehensive benefits program, eligible full-time hourly and salaried U.S. employees will qualify to receive:
- Ten weeks of paid maternity leave and two weeks of paid parental leave.
- An adoption assistance benefit to cover up to $5,000 of expenses related to agency, legal and other fees.
- Eligibility to enroll in health benefits sooner, as early as the first of the month following 30 days of service.
Lowe’s also announced one-time cash bonuses of up to $1,000 for its more than 260,000 hourly employees, as some other large US employers have done in response to the substantial cut in the corporate tax rate passed by Congress in December.
The chain’s new leave policy, which goes into effect May 1, means that the 20 largest private employers in the US now offer some form of paid parental leave benefit, the New York Times‘ Claire Cain Miller observes:
The Lowe’s policy is among the most generous for hourly employees, who are 59 percent of the American work force. Hourly employees are generally much less likely than salaried employees to receive paid leave, but they are also less likely to be able to afford unpaid leave or newborn child care.
At the 20 largest employers, six others give birth mothers or primary caregivers 10 weeks or more among hourly employees. Just eight others guarantee other parents any time at all.
The expansion of parental leave policies among large companies is welcome news to their employees. However, Miller points out that small businesses, which employ the majority of the American private-sector workforce, are less likely to offer this benefit, often because they can’t afford it. As a result, only 13 percent of private industry workers in the US have access to paid family leave.