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Starbucks Now Has the Best Parental Leave Policy of Any Major Restaurant Chain

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz.
Getty Images
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz.

When it comes to parental leave policies, the U.S. falls far behind other developed nations — but Starbucks is trying to narrow that gap. On Thursday the coffee giant informed its American workforce that it's expanding its parental leave policies, the New York Times reports, giving new parents up to 18 weeks of paid leave.

Starbucks' website outlines the new benefits, which go into effect October 1: Birth mothers employed at Starbucks stores (baristas, et al) will now be eligible for six weeks of paid leave at 100 percent pay, plus an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave; non-birth parents (so partners, adoptive parents, and foster parents) will be able to take 12 weeks unpaid leave. The company offers benefits to all store employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

Non-store employees, such as those employed at Starbucks' corporate office in Seattle, will be eligible for more paid leave time: Birth mothers can take up to 18 weeks paid leave at 100 percent pay, and non-birth parents will get up to 12 weeks paid leave.

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The new policy marks a significant improvement for Starbucks, which previously offered six weeks of leave at 67 percent pay for biological mothers and adoptive parents, but no paid leave at all for fathers.

It also widens the gap between the coffee chain and some of the nation's other top food service employers: KFC and Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands, for instance, does not offer any paid parental leave. McDonald's offers birth moms 12 weeks leave at 50 percent pay, but does not provide leave for fathers or adoptive parents.

Last September Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group introduced a groundbreaking new parental leave plan that gives all new parents four weeks of fully paid leave. (Fast-food chain Shake Shack is not under the USHG umbrella, however, so its employees aren't eligible for this benefit.)