Ep 32 – Sweetgreen Offers 5 Months of Parental Leave

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Ep 32 – Sweetgreen Offers 5 Months of Parental Leave

Being a mom has been one of the most rewarding and hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s been a few years since I’ve had a newborn. My daughter is now 10, however, as an HR leader and woman, I’m particularly sensitive to the subject of parental leave. Notice I didn’t mention maternity leave. I’m in favor of time off for both parents.

Today’s featured article comes from  and is titled, Sweetgreen Is Giving Parents 5 Months of Parental Leave

For those of you that aren’t aware, Sweetgreen is a 3,500 person company that many refer to as the Starbucks of salads. They are selling $13 salads to young professionals. The company was started in a dorm room at Georgetown 2007. The restaurant industry has some of the highest levels of turnover and the lowest hourly wages.

Turnover right now in restaurants for 2018 is at the highest levels ever recorded. The overall turnover rate in the restaurants-and-accommodations* sector was 74.9 percent in 2018, up from a rate of 72.5 percent in 2017. The 2018 turnover rate represented the highest level since the Great Recession, after falling to a cyclical low of 57.1 percent in 2010 as reported by Restaurant.org. However, in the restaurant industry, 30% or more of employees are considered part-time meaning that this policy change likely only impacts a very small number of employees.

Should that matter and should other employers follow suit?

I do think it matters that other employees follow suit. I heard a statistic recently that 1 in 4 women with return to work within two weeks of giving birth.

6 months is quickly becoming the gold stand standard in the United Sttates for maternity leave and even other types of pariental leave. Which is huge when you think about that statistic I shared of two weeks going to six months that gold standard. So five months in the restaurant space is phenominal and such an opportunity not only for new parents but really leading the way for other types of leave and other types of work arrangements and work options for all employees. In additional to those benefits to the overall company think about all those positive to the parent for the ability to be in a better mental place and to focus more on work when they do decide to return. They’ll have more time to adjust to their new normal, they’ve had a chance to adjust to the changes of their body, and their baby is potentially at a different stage before they have to go into some sort of childcare and potentially a longer leave might mean the difference between someone having to make the decision to not come back to work at all verses returning to work at a later time when their child is a bit older.

All in all maternity leaves leads the way for changes to all other types of leave and many of those changes I think that if not only benefits new mothers and new parents but all employees. Longer maternity leaves or parential leaves ultimately give parents and new mothers more options. 

While the restaurant might have some of the highest turnovers, they also employ the largest percentage of Gen Z and younger Millennials. This change by Sweetgreen is a sign I think of changes to come. I’d like to see more companies make the decision to offer parental leave like Sweetgreen and give parents more time beyond FMLA requirements to bold with their newborn and do that paid.

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Sweetgreen Is Giving Employees Five Months of Parental Leave

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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