Dow Chemical adds paid weeks to parental leave
Mothers will receive a minimum of 12 weeks, non-birthing parents two weeks.
MIDLAND, Mich — Dow Chemical is fattening the paid leave it gives employees after the birth of a child as it becomes the latest major US employer to rethink how it treats parents.
The creator of Ziploc bags and Saran Wrap said mothers will receive a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave, while. That’s up from six to eight weeks and one week, respectively.
This leave can be taken in the 12 months after a child’s birth, and the change applies to all of the company’s 53,000 employees worldwide.
The chemical maker left its policy for adoptive parents unchanged. They get four weeks of paid time off and reimbursement for some expenses.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) signed into law in 1993 requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks. The law exempts small employers, defined as those having fewer than 50 employees, says a 2012 Globe and Mail article. In Canada, depending on length of employment and hours worked, new mothers can take between 17 and 52 weeks of leave from their jobs, with financial benefits benefits equal 55% of the parent’s average weekly insurable wage.
Click here to read Maternity leave basics: Canada vs. the U.S.
More US companies have started expanding the leave they give to new parents, especially in Silicon Valley, where competition for workers can be intense. Netflix Inc., for instance, said last year that some of its employees will be able to take up to a year of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child.
But overall, paid maternity and paternity leave in the US lags behind standards established elsewhere.
Many European countries mandate several months of paid leave after a birth or adoption. In the US, most employers offer some sort of paid, short-term disability leave – usually six or eight weeks – for women who give birth. But paid leave after that, outside of sick time or vacation days, can be sparse. Federal law requires only unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
A survey last year by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 21% of employers offer a paid maternity benefit beyond disability leave. Only 17% provide paid paternity leave for fathers.
Paid maternity leave can vary by company. It usually amounts to around 12 weeks, some of which may be at partial salary, said Lisa Horn, the society’s director of congressional affairs.
Dow’s new policy started this month in the US and will be phased in throughout the year internationally.
Late last year, Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. and competitor DuPont announced a plan to merge and temporarily create the world’s second-largest chemical company before separating into three independent, publicly traded companies.
A Dow spokeswoman said that it was too early to say how the leave policy will be managed after the merger is completed.