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The New York Times reports this morning that with the recent decision by Lowe’s to change its policies, “the 20 largest employers in the United States now offer paid parental leave to at least some of their workers.”

According to the story, under Lowe’s new policy, “birth mothers will have 10 weeks of paid leave, and all other parents - including fathers and adoptive, foster and same-sex parents - will have two weeks of paid leave. All salaried and full-time hourly employees, like those who work in Lowe’s stores and distribution centers, will receive the benefit.”

The Times goes on to write that “in most American families, both parents work, and many are struggling to combine work and parenthood. Companies have been trying to adjust to that fact. In the absence of a federal paid leave policy - the United States is the only industrialized country not to have one - companies and some states and cities have been starting their own … The biggest employers have an easier time paying for leave and replacing employees when they are out. Small business owners say it’s much more challenging for them. Although 94 percent of respondents in the Pew survey said paid leave would be good for families, 57 percent said it would be bad for small businesses.”

While the nation’s top 20 employers offer some form of parental leave, “only 13 percent of private industry workers have access to paid family leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
KC's View:
If companies want to be preferred employers in a buyers’ market - more jobs than people - then they’re simply going to have to offer these kinds of benefits and extend them to the people on the front lines of their companies. In other words, not just the folks in the corporate office, but also to the hourly people in-store, who actually need them more. It may cost more at one stage of the process, but it also could cut down on turnover and training costs, which could impact productivity.