Ikea lik­ing leave idea

FUR­NI­TURE CHAIN EX­PAND­ING TIME OFF FOR NEW PAR­ENTS, BUT CRIB ASSEM­BLY IS STILL THEIR JOB

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ann D’In­no­cen­zio and Bar­bara Or­tu­tay

Ikea’s U.S. di­vi­sion is of­fer­ing longer parental leave to em­ploy­ees who are new par­ents, fol­low­ing sim­i­lar over­tures from tech com­pa­nies such as Net­flix as it strives to keep good work­ers in an im­prov­ing job mar­ket.

The ready-to-as­sem­ble fur­ni­ture chain said Tues­day it will of­fer its 13,000 salar­ied and hourly em­ploy­ees in the U.S. up to four months of paid parental leave. Ef­fec­tive Jan. 1, the pol­icy will ap­ply to moth­ers and fa­thers who are birth, adop­tive or fos­ter par­ents. Ikea had pre­vi­ously given women giv­ing birth five days of paid leave in ad­di­tion to six to eight weeks of paid dis­abil­ity leave.

Ikea’s move, part of its drive to im­prove its re­la­tions with work­ers, fol­lows pay in­creases in the past two years that brought the av­er­age min­i­mum hourly wage to $11.87. With un­em­ploy­ment at a nine-year low, many com­pa­nies are try­ing to re­tain work­ers.

Lars Peters­son, pres­i­dent of Ikea’s U.S. di­vi­sion, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the parental-leave ex­pan­sion will give em­ploy­ees a bet­ter feel­ing about the work­place and will mean bet­ter ser­vice to cus­tomers.

“We want them to take time off,” he said. “The home is our arena. We think the home is the most im­por­tant place for peo­ple.”

The plan gives Ikea em­ploy­ees of more than a year up to three months of paid

“The home is our arena. We think the home is the most im­por­tant place for peo­ple.” Lars Peters­son, pres­i­dent of Ikea’s U.S. di­vi­sion

leave, at full base wage for the first six weeks and 50 per­cent af­ter that. Em­ploy­ees of at least three years can take up to four months, with eight weeks at full pay and eight weeks at half.

Apart from parental leave, Ikea is of­fer­ing an un­paid sab­bat­i­cal for all em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing part­time work­ers, based on ten­ure, for up to a year. Pre­vi­ously, it of­fered a per­sonal leave of 30 days.

Over­all, paid ma­ter­nity and pa­ter­nity leave in the United States lags be­hind stan­dards es­tab­lished else­where. In the U.S., paid leave af­ter the short-term dis­abil­ity leave can be sparse. Fed­eral law re­quires only un­paid leave for the birth or adop­tion of a child. Still, com­pa­nies such as Net­flix, Adobe and Mi­crosoft have made changes re­cently.

Net­flix an­nounced last year it was giv­ing par­ents “un­lim­ited” paid leave for up to a year af­ter the birth or adop­tion of a child, mean­ing they can take as much or as lit­tle as they would like. Tar­get Corp. also ex­panded its plan, and salar­ied and hourly em­ploy­ees who av­er­age 20 plus hours a week and have one year of ser­vice can now get two weeks of paid leave. It ap­plies to em­ploy­ees who are giv­ing birth, their part­ners, those who are adopt­ing or be­com­ing par­ents via sur­ro­gacy, and fos­ter par­ents.

Still, “these com­pa­nies don’t rep­re­sent what’s hap­pen­ing in the U.S. la­bor mar­ket,” said Ellen Galin­sky, pres­i­dent of the Fam­i­lies and Work In­sti­tute, a non­profit re­search group.

Thinkstock

Paid ma­ter­nity and pa­ter­nity leave in the United States lags be­hind stan­dards es­tab­lished else­where.

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