- Cosmetics and skin care giant Estée Lauder is giving parents — including men — 20 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, according to a Business Insider report. Birth parents will receive an additional six to eight weeks of paid leave. The company is also offering up to $10,000 toward adoption fees. The new policies and benefits took effect May 1.
- Hourly and salaried employees are eligible for the benefit if they work at least 30 hours a week and have been employed by the company for at least three months. The company also announced a six-week program to help new parents make the transition from home back into the workplace. Parents have a choice of where and when they want to work, which might be at home for a few days a week or on a schedule that allows them to come in early and leave early, rather than adhere to a 9-to-5 workday.
- Notably, the company was the target of an EEOC lawsuit late last year that alleged the company denied men the same number of leave days and related privileges that women received. The company has since reached a settlement but details have not yet been released.
Paid parental leave and, increasingly, flexible return-to-work policies for new parents are part of the push by employers to improve their benefits offerings to keep employees around longer, including hourly employees. U.S. employers have upped their benefits to include employees outside the typical salaried worker silo to better retain workers in a job seeker's market.
Employers may want to be careful about the nature of the offered leave. Estee Lauder wasn't the only company that faced a lawsuit last year for allegedly unequal parental leave programs; a similar suit is pending against JPMorgan Chase over the company's separate "primary caregiver" and "secondary caregiver" leaves. The EEOC has extensive guidance on where they stand on the matter: employers can offer birth mothers medical leave for pregnancy and to recover from childbirth, but bonding leave cannot differ based on gender.
Employees of all types (fathers, mothers and those without children) want more work-life balance and employers are offering flexible work schedules to help them get it. Increasingly, job applicants are bypassing employers with more traditional in-office structures for jobs with flexibility and the ability to work wherever needed.