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A Starbucks in New York
Starbucks is expanding the restaurant chain's parental leave benefits in 2017 for the company's U.S. partners. Robert Caplin/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Starbucks Will Now Allow New Fathers to Take Paternity Leave

Jan 19, 2017

Starbucks is enhancing the coffee giant's slate of maternity and parental benefits, including fully paid leave for birth moms and new perks for fathers, same-sex couples and adoptive parents that work at the coffee giant's stores.

The coffee purveyor says that effective October 1, partners (Starbucks lingo for baristas) who give birth are entitled to six weeks of leave paid at 100% of their annual pay, an increase from the prior benefit of 67% of average pay over that time period. To be eligible for Starbucks' benefits, the employee must work a minimum of 20 hours per week. Additionally, any benefits-eligible baristas who welcome a new child (a new father, a foster parent or by adoption), are eligible to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The new enhanced benefits means that both parents can take advantage of the offer to take 12 weeks of work unpaid and still be guaranteed a job when they return. Starbucks also boosted the benefits it offers for non-store partners (district managers, field partners, employees at the headquarters), which under the new policy gives those new moms who give birth eligibility to receive a full 18 weeks of paid parental leave. Non-birth parents will also get 12 weeks of paid leave.

The company employs more than 160,000 partners in the U.S. It isn't clear how many of those employees work the minimum amount of hours needed to quality for the benefits.

"While we have made substantial investments in our partners, we want to continue to do more," said President and COO Kevin Johnson. "This is one of many steps we are actively taking to evolve our benefits and create a Partner Experience that lives up to our aspirations." Johnson is to become CEO in April, after Howard Schultz steps down.

The boost to the paternity leave benefits is one of many changes Starbucks has made to make the restaurant chain a more desirable place to work at a time when rival food purveyors and retailers are boosting pay and offering other perks to lure more desirable employees.

Other significant benefit-related news from Starbucks include a raise between 5% to 15% that went into effect in October, tuition reimbursement for those pursuing a bachelor's degree, and a more relaxed dress code. At a time when many major restaurant chains—in particular fast-food operators—have generated headlines for increasing wages, Starbucks has aimed to be at least a few steps ahead of competitors by offering a more comprehensive slate of benefits.

The move to give paternity leave to new fathers is also important, as that topic has been increasingly talked about as an issue of social importance. The tech industry, in particular, has been vocal on providing paternity leave options for employees even though there are surveys that show it can be hard to convince new fathers to take time off.

Still, some outside observers have clamored for Starbucks to add the benefit. A recent Change.org online petition that garnered over 40,000 signatures that called on the coffee seller to enhance the benefit to include fathers.

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