WE WON! Starbucks announced on January 24, 2018 that it is finally going to offer paid parental leave to all employees. Partners will have some protected, paid time to welcome new children to their lives.
Starbucks is only one company, but it’s a leader and many other companies follow its example when it comes to how to treat employees. Starbucks is still giving its corporate executives MUCH more parental leave than it gives everyone else (corporate moms still get 3x the leave as baristas, and corporate dads get 2x more) but now, nobody is left out.
I’m asking that Starbucks expand its paid parental leave policy to include ALL dads, because dads should also be allowed the critical time to bond with a new child.
Why is this important?
I’ve been a barista at Starbucks for nearly 4 years in multiple states and currently work in Wilsonville, Oregon. My wife is due to give birth to our first baby in less than 2 weeks. For so many soon-to-be fathers, feeling anxious is normal, but I’m even more nervous because we don’t have access to any paid parental leave.
In order to help support my wife during her pregnancy, I used up some of my vacation and sick time, which is now running short. Currently, I have a week and a half left of vacation or sick time which I expect to use after our delivery. Our benefits allowed us the family planning financial assistance necessary for infertility treatment, but now the ability to be present during the most crucial stage of my family’s development is in jeopardy. As a single income family with a new infant, we simply cannot afford to take unpaid time off.
The current partner benefits system works against expecting parents, something we have unfortunately found out the hard way. The part time disability that my wife and I pay into does not allow any paid time off to care for my wife after birth, because pregnancy is considered as a preexisting condition. As our child is scheduled to arrive during the holiday season, the ability to be a part of the postpartum process is even more worrisome.
I made the choice to work at Starbucks after a 17 year long career because I have received great benefits, including health insurance. I’m a partner and a shareholder in the company - but when it comes to paid family leave, it’s as if my contributions and sacrifices to Starbucks don't matter. It is incredibly frustrating to know that new fathers who work in the corporate office receive 12 weeks paid parental leave - time that would make a world of difference for my family. These rights should be offered to every partner, in every retail store, and would impress upon the company an even more supportive and fulfilling workplace.
I’m sharing my story because I know that it’s not just me who needs to be able to take paid parental leave - I’ve talked to so many other men at work who are shocked to find out that we don’t receive any paid time to be there when we have children. The time of fathers and husbands to only be financial contributors has come and gone. My desire to be an equal part of the rearing of my children and caretaker seem to be a concept that Starbucks has yet to consider. For relationships like ours, that don’t have assistance from family and friends, we equally rely on each other in times of health and hardships.
Currently, Starbucks employees who work in the corporate office receive 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and birthing mothers receive an additional 6 weeks (18 weeks total). For those of us who work in the stores, birthing mothers and adoptive parents receive 6 weeks paid parental leave - but dads are completely left out - we don’t receive any time at all.