Hilton Worldwide this month began offering paid parental leave to its employees, following in the footsteps of a number of U.S. companies that have recently expanded benefits to new parents.
Under the new policy, the McLean, Va.-based hotelier gives two weeks of paid leave to all new parents, including those who adopt, and 10 weeks of paid leave for mothers who give birth. What sets Hilton’s policy apart from many others, though, is that it offers the same benefits to hourly workers — such as front desk attendants and housekeepers — as it does to salaried employees.
Prior to this year, Hilton did not offer formal paid leave for new parents in the United States.
“There was a resounding call for more flexibility” from employees, said Matt Schuyler, chief human resources officer for Hilton. “As we canvassed our team members, there was one glaring open item: We didn’t do much in the way of parental leave as an industry or as a company.”
Netflix made headlines in August when it announced it would begin offering one year of paid parental leave to salaried employees. A few months later, the company extended its policy to offer 12 to 16 weeks of paid leave to hourly workers.
A number of other companies followed suit with promises of paid parental leave: Amazon.com (six weeks), Yahoo (eight weeks), Microsoft (12 weeks) Adobe (16 weeks), Facebook (four months) and Spotify (six months). (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“We’ve seen incredible momentum on the issue of paid leave,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization. “Private-sector companies are adopting new policies, and although two weeks falls way short of what working parents need, it’s a great start.”
Hilton’s announcement comes at a time when the District is considering offering 16 weeks of paid leave to new mothers and fathers.
The United States is the only developed nation that does not require paid parental leave for workers. Just 12 percent of Americans who work for the private sector have access to paid family leave through their employer, according to data from the Labor Department. And for low-wage, hourly workers, that figure is even lower.
At Hilton, the decision to extend paid leave to all 40,000 employees at its U.S. hotels and corporate offices seemed obvious, Schuyler said.
“Hotels are where the vast majority of our workforce exist,” he said. “For us to offer a benefit to corporate [employees] but not to our guest-facing team members made no sense from a business perspective.”