Nearly 79 percent of employees at the St. Louis IKEA home furnishings store will be eligible for extended paid parental leave on the first of the year, according to a company spokesperson.
The Scandinavian company known for its ready-to-assemble furniture announced Tuesday it would offer up to four months of paid leave for all new parents, both salaried and hourly, working in its U.S. stores. The American division employs 13,000 individuals, according to the Associated Press.
Out of 261 total employees at the St. Louis store, 205 will qualify for the new benefits, or 78.5 percent, said spokesperson Lissa Johnson.
“As a co-worker who has been with the St. Louis store for over a year now, I’m very excited about this new policy and that IKEA is taking a step in the right direction,” Johnson said, adding that she, herself, will be able to benefit from the new policy.
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The St. Louis 380,000 square-foot store opened in late September 2015 to much fanfare. The first U.S. store opened in 1985 in Philadelphia, more than 40 years after the first store opened in Sweden. Today, there are 51 stores in North America and 315 worldwide with 147,000 employees.
IKEA U.S. President Lars Petersson said the move is aimed at giving its workers more time with family and friends. The new policy applies to mothers, fathers, and adoptive and foster parents.
“This benefit, which applies to all parents, will give our co-workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families when welcoming a child. Our co-workers are our most important resource, which is why we continue to invest in helping them reach their dream,” Petersson said it a prepared statement.
The announcement comes a year after the company initially raised its hourly minimum wage to an average $11.87, the Associated Press reported.
Beer giant Anheuser-Busch also expanded its parental leave policy earlier this year, offering salaried full-time employees up to 16 weeks of paid leave and two weeks to the secondary caregiver, St. Louis television station KMOV reported in April.
IKEA workers with more than a year under their belt are eligible to take up to three months of paid leave with 100 percent of their base salary paid for the first six weeks and 50 percent for an additional six weeks, according to a news release. Workers employed for more than three years can take up to four months of leave with 100 percent of pay for the first eight weeks and 50 percent for the additional eight weeks.
The company will also offer a sabbatical program for employees who want time to “refresh and engage in personal and professional growth and development.”
Online streaming site Netflix and retail store Target also introduced expanded parental leave programs for their employees, according to the Associated Press.