Here’s Why Some Companies Are Offering Better Benefits to Hourly Workers

Young happy barista in a cafe holding apron and on maternity leave.
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One sign that companies are having difficulty finding good help? Starbucks announced on Wednesday a boost to benefits for hourly workers on the parental path.

In addition to raises for hourly and salaried employees, which they credit the new tax law for allowing them to give, the coffee titan announced two developments of special interest to families:

  • Expansion of their paid family leave for hourly workers. They’re upping it to six weeks of paid leave for non-birth parents (such as dads and adoptive parents) to match their six weeks of paid leave for the birth moms.Previously, the bean baron gave no paid leave to non-birth parents, but two vocal baristas, who lodged complaints that hourly employees should have the same benefits as their salaried counterparts, might have spurred the change.

    The salaried set still gets the bigger benefit: 18 weeks paid leave for birth moms and 12 weeks for the other parent.

  • Creation of a partner and family sick-time benefit. This policy allows hourly employees to accrue sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. So in one year, a barista working 23 hours a week would accrue five sick days. The time can be used for personal sick days or to care for family members.

These are just two examples of the many parent-friendly benefits companies are starting to offer to attract and retain qualified workers. Earlier this month, Walmart announced it’s offering 10 weeks of maternity leave to its full-time hourly employees.

After pay, benefits are a big selling point for a job, so parents who take an hourly job because they need the flexibility are more likely to be attracted to benefits that help them most. And according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, 69% of Americans said they took off less time than they wanted to take because they couldn’t afford to lose more income.

Why Are Companies Being So Generous?

More companies might be considering benefits for hourly workers that were previously a perk only for the salaried set because skilled non-degree workers seem to be in short supply.

Recent reports that weekly wages for non-degree workers jumped 2.3% indicate that companies are finding it difficult to find and keep their hourly employees.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers at companies with at least 50 employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child or for a family member’s serious health condition.

But that’s 12 weeks without an income for a new parent or a person dealing with medical issues — not the ideal time to cut off your income.

Companies that want to attract and retain quality employees could finally be on track to recognizing paid leave and other perks for their hourly employees will — ahem — benefit all.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.