Ikea Puts Employees First and Offers Extended Paid Parental Leave

In a move that is on par with some big tech companies, including Netflix, Ikea just announced that it is expanding the paid parental leave it offers its employees. The furniture chain will now allow up to four months of paid time off for its 13,000 U.S. employees after the birth or adoption of a child.

While federal law only requires unpaid leave for new parents, many large companies are taking steps to retain quality workers. High turnover can result after the birth of a child, and it has been shown that employees tend to stay with a company (and provide better service) when they feel they are taken care of -- especially after a new child is welcomed into the family.

NBC News reports:

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.

The United States lags far behind other countries around the world that offer some kind of paid leave for new parents. But it is possible that more and more companies, like Ikea, Netflix and Target, will begin take the initiative in the absence of legislation:

Netflix announced last year it was giving parents "unlimited" paid leave for up to a year following the birth or adoption of a child, meaning they can take as much or as little as they would like.

Target 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.

While paid family leave has become a political issue, these companies show that some businesses will offer this benefit with or without legal requirements, to put the families of their employees first.