AmEx and Ikea Have New Parental Leave Policies — and They’re Game Changers

Paid parental leave

Fed up with the lack of paid parental leave in the United States?

You’re not alone.

A recent poll found 78% of voters support establishing a national fund offering workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

Not only are politicians taking notice — companies are, too.

While many startups have instituted progressive parental leave policies — like Etsy’s 26 weeks or Netflix’s full year — change has been slower for those of us who don’t live in Silicon Valley or skateboard to work.

Until now.

In dominoes that are hopefully the first of many to fall, American Express and Ikea recently (and generously!) expanded their parental leave policies.

The Rockin’ New AmEx and Ikea Paid Parental Leave Policies

This is what’s up:

Ikea will now offer up to four months of paid parental leave for salaried and hourly employees, while American Express will give 20 full weeks (five months!) to both part- and full-time employees.

And that’s not all: American Express will also reimburse expenses of up to $35,000 for two adoptions or surrogacies, up to $35,000 for reproductive and fertility treatments, free access to lactation consultants and free breast-milk shipping while traveling for business.

Why are these changes such a big deal?

Well, let’s consider American Express. Compared to hot tech startups — or practically any other company, for that matter — it’s ancient. It was founded in 1850, 70 years before women even gained the right to vote.

So the fact it’s creating progressive policies that accommodate working women and families of all sorts is insanely cool. (Several other financial institutions offer 16 weeks, some only to primary caregivers.)

As for Ikea, the progressive part isn’t a surprise; it’s based in the world’s most annoyingly perfect country.

What is surprising? The fact it’s a brick-and-mortar retailer — and extending the policy to salaried and hourly workers alike. No other retailers in the U.S. even come close.

Finally, unlike some of the aforementioned startups, which are based in specific parts of the country and often require specialized skills, AmEx and Ikea have a plethora of locations and positions.

AmEx employs 21,000 in the U.S.; Ikea, 11,000. Compare that to Etsy’s 979 global employees, and you can see why this matters: Many Americans will have the opportunity to take advantage of these new policies.

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we’ve even listed work-from-home jobs with AmEx before.

Though they’re filled now, they could open up again in the near future — so follow our Facebook Jobs page to be the first to know!

Your Turn: What do you think of these policies? Do you wish other companies would follow suit?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

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