Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) has announced the expansion of paid sick leave and parental leave for its employees. The company has also announced a wage increase and one-time bonus for employees in the form of a stock grant. Starbucks says the expanded benefits have a combined worth of more than $250 million.
The new policy lets Starbucks employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employee working 25 hours a week would accrue about five days of sick time over the course of a year’s employment. Workers may use the benefit in the event of an illness affecting themselves or a family member.
Previously, the benefit was only offered in states with laws that required it. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2017 shows that only about 35 percent of workers in the accommodation and food services industry have access to paid sick days. The company acknowledged that employees had asked for expanded sick leave benefits well before the passage of the new tax law.
However, the passage of the tax cuts helped the company “accelerate our ability to do it,” according to Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges.
Starbucks is also adding six weeks of paid parental leave for its hourly employees who become new dads. Previously, the benefit was only offered to new mothers and adoptive or foster parents. The National Partnership for Women & Families called the new policy “very welcome corporate leadership.”
However, there is still a disparity between salaried and non-salaried employees. New mothers who make a salaried wage receive 18 weeks of paid leave, while other salaried parents receive 12 weeks. Employees continue to raise questions about the disparities in the parental leave benefit.
Borges says Starbucks aims to offer benefits to its workers other retail employers do not. New perks help lure new employees in our crowded and increasingly competitive labor market. In a statement, he said, “Historically, we’ve shown we’re constantly thinking of ways for partners to share in our company’s success, from health care to stock grants.”
A number of companies have announced that they will be using the recent tax cuts to expand benefits for workers. Visa and Nationwide Mutual Insurance said they would be offering higher matches in 401(k) plans. Disney is offering a one-time bonus and said it would be investing $50 million into a tuition benefit for hourly employees. Walmart is expanding paid family leave for hourly workers.