The 14th largest private company in the U.S. announced Nov. 7 that it now offers six weeks of paid parental leave to most of its 28,000 employees following the birth or adoption of a child.
Pilot Flying J’s “gender-neutral” leave benefit is available to all new parents working at its rest stops, retail locations and service centers who have at least one year of service and who’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.
“We strongly believe that paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers is a much-needed benefit, especially for hourly workers in the retail and convenience store industries,” the company said.
This continues a trend of larger U.S. employers adding paid family leave benefits.
Parental leave benefits still uneven
Mercer reports that 40% of U.S. employers offered paid leave for both birth parents as of late 2018.
And WorldatWork survey data bumps that figure to about 52% as of March 2019.
But those employers only accounted for about 16% of all U.S. workers employed by private sector businesses in 2018.
That’s according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data contained in the Congressional Research Service report Paid Family Leave in the United States .
And parental leave benefits are still much more common at larger employers in the U.S..
BLS data shows about 25% of U.S. workers at businesses with 500 or more employees have access to paid family leave that includes both maternity and paternity leave.
However, only 12% of workers at businesses with 1-99 employees have access to the benefit.
And, as Pilot Flying J notes in its press release, “In the retail industry, where many employees are part-time and hourly, this number is even lower at 7%.”
Some states offer parental leave insurance
Meanwhile, six states, along with Washington DC have stepped in to provide parental leave insurance (PLI) that pays cash benefits to workers taking care of family members, including new mothers and fathers.
But two of the states and Washington DC have not yet launched the programs.
The number of weeks and wage replacement rates vary, with existing state programs offer between four weeks (Rhode Island) and 10 weeks (New York) of benefits.
New York plans to increase coverage to 12 weeks by 2021. New Jersey offers six weeks now and will boost that to 12 weeks in July 2020.
California, which launched family leave insurance in 2004, offers 6 weeks of cash payments.
Washington DC will offer 8 weeks of paid family leave and Washington state plans to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave, both starting in 2021.
Massachusetts’ plan calls for up to 12 weeks for family leave beginning in 2021.
All of those plans pay workers a percentage of their regular salary.
Some employers in those states have implemented plans that cover the part or all of the difference between the state benefit amount and workers’ full salaries.