- Eataly is offering all of its nearly 3,000 U.S. employees eight weeks of paid parental leave so long as they've been employed by the company for more than a year, according to Fast Company.
- Workers will be paid 100% of their weekly gross pay for the first four weeks and then 60% of their weekly gross pay for the last month.
- The grocery/restaurant hybrid is hoping to expand its employee benefits further in the future. "We’re gathering information about what employees really want: Are they more interested in more time off, or more financial resources?" Eataly CEO Nicola Farinetti told Fast Company. "Ultimately, our goal is to make life even easier for new parents."
As a tight labor market heats up competition between retailers looking to hire and retain high-quality employees, Eataly is doing everything it can to differentiate itself from its rivals. Acquiring and training staff is an expensive and costly part of business, so anything a retailer can do to limit staff turnover, while attracting the best talent, likely helps its operations while improving customer service — a key initiative, especially as more sales move online and grocers look for advantages over their online competitors.
Offering paid parental leave is a savvy move for the grocer/restaurant, as the benefit is rarely offered to retail workers. The Family and Medical Leave Act in the U.S. provides 12 weeks of job protection for new parents. In this case, Farinetti wants to bring some of the customs of his home country, Italy — which guarantees six months of leave to all parents at 80% of their salary — to his employees. Eataly is also taking clues from bigger U.S. retailers like Walmart and smaller grocers like New Seasons Market.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced it would expand its parental-leave policy to give full-time hourly employees and salaried employees six weeks paid. The retailer also extended its maternity leave, raised its minimum pay and offered adoption assistance. In January, New Seasons Market became one of the first grocery stores in the country to provide a fully paid parental leave benefit to its employees — assistance the grocery industry hasn't traditionally provided.
The current unemployment rate likely plays a major part in Eataly’s decision. Unemployment is close to its lowest level in nearly two decades at 3.9%, and expanding retailers are on the hunt for new employees. Paid parental leave could be one way to entice new workers, especially considering it's a rarity in the retail sector. In a business whose workforce is often part time and paid hourly, few employees even qualify for paid parental leave, which is usually given to full-time or corporate positions.
Offering employees paid parental leave shows support for employees and will likely brighten the restaurant/grocery hybrid's image. The move could even be considered a mission-based initiative by customers and employees, a value-add that is becoming increasingly important in today's competitive climate. If the move helps Eataly attract higher quality talent as well, it could set the path for more grocers to follow its lead.
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