This week, Johnson & Johnson made an exciting announcement that will hopefully set a precedent for other major companies in the U.S. All employees who are new parents -- maternal, paternal or adoptive -- will now be eligible for seven additional weeks of paid leave during the first year of the child's birth or adoption.
According to a blog post on the company's website, this announcement means that moms who give birth can take up to 17 paid weeks off, and new dads receive nine weeks.
Under their old policy, Johnson & Johnson gave all parents one week of “Parental Leave for New Additions” and one week of "Work, Personal + Family Leave," but the additional seven weeks makes that leave time nine weeks total for fathers, adoptive parents, and same sex couples.
With the extra "Parental Leave for New Additions," moms who gave birth via C-section are eligible for up to 17 paid weeks and mothers who delivered vaginally get up to 15 weeks.
Moreover, new parents don't have to take their leave consecutively, allowing for greater flexibility during that first year. The policy goes into effect on May 1, but it will also retroactively apply to employees who became parents on or after May 2014.
In the blog post, titled "J&J and the 21st Century Working Family," VP of Worldwide Human Resources Peter Fasolo and VP of International Total Reward and Global Benefits Lisa Blair Davis write, "We are especially proud of the changes instituted today because they underscore our strong support for the modern-day family, no matter what shape that family takes. In addition to the obvious benefits for mothers, our new policy is also a great stride forward in terms of fathers’ and adoptive parents’ leave."
When it comes to parental leave, the U.S. lags far behind other developed countries. Under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, the jobs of new parents in the U.S. are only guaranteed 12 unpaid weeks of leave, though President Barack Obama has made a push to change for improvement.
Perhaps this Johnson & Johnson news, however, will lead to similar announcements from other major American businesses.