Economy

Footwear Company Gets In On The Paid Family Leave Arms Race

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KEEN Footwear, the outdoor shoe manufacturer, has increased its family leave policy to offer more pay, more time off, and include more parents, one of the few companies outside of the technology industry to do so recently.

All eligible KEEN employees — including mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents — will now be able to take four weeks of paid leave for a new baby, the company confirmed to ThinkProgress. Employees have reported that the previous policy only allowed six weeks of short-term disability for new mothers at 60 percent of pay.

The new benefits won’t reach everyone. Only those who work for the company full time — at least 30 hours a week — are eligible, while part-time and temporary employees will only be able to use other forms of leave such as paid time off or short-term disability.

KEEN’s change came after some employees had put pressure on it to implement a policy of eight paid weeks for all new parents, and they have said they will keep pushing for that amount of leave. They also noted that some competitors offer generous benefits. Patagonia offers two months of paid leave for mothers and fathers, while Toms Shoes offers eight weeks.

But it’s less common for such generous benefits to reach people who don’t work in white collar jobs. Americans who make the least are also the least likely to get paid family leave at work; those who make the most are far more likely. There have been a number of companies that have announced that they’re expanding their benefits to be quite generous — a year at Netflix, six months at Spotify, and five months at Google — but they are nearly all in the technology sector, where employers are vying for highly skilled and highly paid workers.

The patchwork of coverage from employer to employer is thanks to the fact that the U.S. is one of very few countries across the globe that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave and one of the few developed countries that doesn’t guarantee paid paternity leave. Just three states have paid leave requirements. Democrats have introduced a bill that would create a national paid family leave program, but it has yet to advance.