- Salad chain Sweetgreen now offers five months of fully paid parental leave, the company announced Tuesday.
- Mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents and others with new family members will receive the benefit, according to a blog post the company published on Medium.
- "We believe it is our responsibility to lead the way given the U.S. is one of the few countries that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents," the company said. "This move is rare for our industry and we hope this creates a conversation for other companies to join."
Sweetgreen joins a growing group of employers rolling out lengthy, paid parental leave for hourly workers. VF Corporation — parent company of brands like The North Face, Timberland, Wrangler, Vans and Lee — recently announced eight weeks of paid parental leave. A month earlier, Lululemon announced it would offer up to six months of gender-neutral paid parental leave, specifically pointing out its intention to attract and retain hourly workers. And H&M workers gained access to paid parental leave in November.
As Lululemon pointed out, hourly employers offering paid parental leave gain a powerful tool for recruitment and retention. Sweetgreen no doubt will wield the same tool, but it calls out another benefit: employer branding. In adopting such a relatively generous policy and including some meditation on the lack of national paid parental leave mandates in its messaging, Sweetgreen is positioning the move as an act of corporate social responsibility.
It's a branding strategy made popular by employee demand — most workers want their companies to address societal problems, according to a 2018 MetLife poll. As employees continue to search for meaning within their professional lives, employers may be able to deliver by setting up volunteer programs, donating to charities or by offering benefits that correspond with social issues.