Dollar General's latest deal isn't another deep discount for cost-conscious shoppers, but rather will likely be seen as a boon to morale and a move that improves the lives of its employees.
The discount retail chain said Thursday it is giving more time off for mothers to give birth and take care of their babies.
The retailer's parental leave policy, effective April 1, will offer these benefits to eligible full-time and part-time employees:
•Two weeks of paid time off for qualifying parental leave.
•Eight weeks of paid time off for birth mothers -- two weeks of qualifying paid parental leave and an additional six weeks of qualifying paid maternity leave.
•Up to $4,000 in assistance to employees who are seeking to adopt
The benefit is available for all of Dollar General's 130,000 employees in its stores, distribution centers and at the corporate level, the company says.
The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based discount store chain has been unusual in the retail industry, growing as other chains shrink. It recently announced it expects to open 1,000 new locations and distribution hubs, adding new positions that will grow its staff by about 9%.
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Employers have begun increasing employee benefits as the nation's unemployment rate has continued to decline. Earlier this year, Walmart announced its own improved benefits, which took effect last month, giving full-time hourly U.S. employees 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried employees will also receive six weeks of paid parental leave.
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The nation's largest private employer also began giving adoption benefits with full-time hourly and salaried workers eligible for up to $5,000 per adoption.
Still, millions of American workers do not get time off following the birth or adoption of a child, according to a group called PL+US, which stands for Paid Leave for the United States, a non-profit group advocating for paid family leave. One in four new moms must go back to work 10 days after giving birth, the group says.
Dollar General's move reflects its willingness to "invest in its people as a competitive advantage," said CEO Todd Vasos in a statement issued with the benefits announcement. "The paid parental leave and adoption assistance benefits will support our employees and their families with financial assistance during the exciting time of welcoming a child."
While much of the retail industry has been in a quagmire, Dollar General has been in the process of expanding over the last two years, growing to more than 14,300 stores in 44 states. The retailer has also improved salaries and training for store managers.
Dollar General shares have fallen about 7% over the last 30 days to $89.39, but have risen 22% over the past year.