Nation & World

General Mills adds more leave for parents

New policy puts company in line with competitors

General Mills has expanded its parental leave policy (Dreamstime/TNS)
General Mills has expanded its parental leave policy (Dreamstime/TNS)

Starting next year, General Mills will bump its paid maternity and parental leave offerings to match some of the more generous big employers in the United States.

All new parents at the food giant will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn, and birth mothers will get an additional six to eight weeks of maternity leave.

Under the old policy, General Mills gave two weeks of parental leave and six weeks of maternity leave.

The Minneapolis-based company also is adding paid time off for other types of family responsibilities — two weeks to care for a sick family member and expanded bereavement.

These benefits will be available to roughly 13,000 salaried and non-union production workers, who make up about 37 percent of General Mills’s global workforce.

The company wouldn’t say how much increasing the benefits will cost. According to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paid leave cost private employers about 7 percent of total compensation, up from about 6.6 percent since 2003.

“We’re always assessing ourselves and looking objectively at where other companies are going,” said Jacqueline Williams-Roll, the company’s chief human resource officer. “We always want to attract, develop, and retain the very best talent. ... We wanted to move the bar up.”

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The benefit puts General Mills more in line with what competitors offer. Starting last year Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg increased its parental leave to 12 to 14 weeks, depending on the parent. Unilever, headquartered in the Netherlands, upped its paid maternity leave to 16 weeks in 2016.

As of 2017, only 15 percent of U.S. workers got any paid family leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 11 percent in 2012.

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