Ford Expands Maternity and Paternity Leave Benefits Among Other Employee Perks

Ford focuses on employee satisfaction by offering another round of benefit improvements.

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Ford Motor Company is expanding the amount of paid time off for its salaried workers in the U.S. who are new fathers and mothers, Fortune reports.

Effective immediately, the automaker is offering eight weeks of fully paid time off for new parents, which is an exorbitant increase from the company’s previous two-week policy. Additionally, this includes adoptive parents, and biological birth mothers can take six to eight fully paid weeks of disability leave for a 16-week total.

The Dearborn-based company attempts to make clear that it's invested in ensuring a certain quality of life for its employees, including a measure wherein new parents can work part-time for two or three days per week for the first month upon returning to the workplace after the initial leave period. Subsequently, employees can modulate their hours and work schedule with adjusted pay should parenting needs call for it. 

“What was really important to us was that the leave provision applied to both men and women,” said Ford’s chief of Human Resources Kiersten Robinson. “The pattern that we saw was that women were taking advantage of the previous policy, but not many men were taking it. That set a tone for some of our female employees that maybe it’s not OK. We wanted to make sure that everyone felt as though this was a priority and they had the flexibility to take this time with their new family.”

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For foster parents, Ford’s new policy allows for two weeks of paid leave when a child becomes part of their family. Foster parents can use that two-week period twice during their employment. 

And while Ford’s new provisions only apply to salaried employees and exclude hourly workers, Director of Personnel Relations and Employee Policies Julie Lavender said the company is taking an expansion under consideration. Lavender added that the Ford executives responsible for the newly expanded paid leave are meeting with officials in labor affairs in the next few weeks to discuss how hourly workers might garner similar benefits in the future. 

Up until 2017, Ford provided maternity leave to birth mothers through their disability absence guidelines. The company’s policies had fathers and adoptive parents utilize their vacation days to tend to their families. It was only last year that Ford officially instated the two-week standard of paid leave for new parents, with today’s news being yet another welcome step for workers. 

On top of that, Ford changed its sick leave policy for all employees. Previously, an employee would have 10 sick days at their disposal, with five of those relegated to “personal reasons” such as caring for a parent or child, or medical appointment. Effective immediately, every employee has 10 sick days in their pockets, with no restrictions or specified designations to adhere to. 

“We’ve done a lot of benchmarking, and certainly within the automotive sector, with these policies we will be one of the leaders in setting the tone,” said Robinson.