Monday, February 5, 2018
From the New York Times:
As the labor market tightens, employers have been competing for highly educated workers by trying to make it easier for them to do their jobs and also have families — benefits like egg freezing or reduced schedules for new parents.
Now, some employers are beginning to address the same challenge for lower-wage workers, starting with paid family leave.
On Wednesday, Starbucks announced raises and stock grants for all employees in the United States, along with new benefits aimed specifically at workers with family caregiving responsibilities: paid time off to care for sick family members and paid paternity leave for hourly employees.
It followed the announcement by Walmart this month that it was raising pay and adding family-friendly benefits. It gave full-time hourly workers the same paid parental leave as salaried ones and said it would help pay for adoptions, including for hourly workers.
It’s a sign that the effects of low unemployment have reached companies that rely on low-wage workers. Both companies also credited tax cuts.
“It brings the talent we’re looking for, and industry-leading retention,” said Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesman. The company had been planning to add benefits for a while, he said, but the corporate tax cuts “were an accelerator.”
By focusing on family-friendly benefits, companies are also catching up to the fact that family life has changed faster than workplace or public policies. In families of all income levels, it’s more common for both parents to work or women to be the breadwinners, and the lack of family-friendly benefits has led to declining labor force participation as people struggle to combine work and parenthood.
Benefits like paid parental leave are a crucial factor for people, especially women, in continuing to work. Yet hourly workers, who generally have the most need for paid parental leave, have also been the least likely to get it. Only recently have more companies begun to change that.
Read more here.