TWIN FALLS -- Officials at Chobani announced Wednesday the yogurt company is rolling out an expanded parental leave policy that will apply to both salaried and hourly employees beginning in January.
"If we are calling this place a family. The family doesn't stop with the members who come to work, it combines with the people you're leaving back home. That's what true family is," Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said.
Under the new policy, new fathers and mothers will receive six weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child, adoption, or placement of a foster child into their home.
"Every single mother and every single father is going to be with their kids," Ulukaya said.
The yogurt manufacturer hopes their new parental leave policy can be used as a model for the entire country.
"This paid parental leave policy is important for Chobani, but it is also part of a critical conversation about the need for increased parental leave in the U.S.," the company said in a press release.
According to Chobani, 90 percent of workers in private sector manufacturing jobs do not have access to paid maternity or paternity leave.
Ulukaya says that need to change.
"As a founder and a new father, my son opened my eyes to the fact that the vast majority of workers in this country don’t have access to paid family leave when they have a new child,” Ulukaya, said in a release. “That’s especially true when it comes to manufacturing and that needs to change in this country and Chobani needed to be part of that change.”
Chobani's Twin Falls factory employees between 1,000 and 2,000 workers - depending on the season - who will now become eligible for the paid leave, which goes into effect beginning in 2017.
"There are a handful of employees that are really going to benefit from this, it's really going to help them with that transition from no kids to kids and being able to become good parents," Jade Titus, a process manager at Chobani said.
Titus and his fiancé are expecting their first little girl just two weeks after this policy goes into effect.
"It was perfect timing. It was funny how it worked out," Titus said.
It's a policy Titus says helps provide a little bit of relief for him and his family.
"My fiancé and I have been trying to coordinate with grandparents and we're in the process of building a house," Titus said.
Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy Grace Zuncic said the change is intended to reflect the importance of parents having time to spend with their children without having to worry about taking a budget hit.
“In designing employee benefits like parental leave, we've always tried to take a holistic view that includes everyone in the company," she said in a statement. "What I value most as a new mom—and a newly expecting mom—is that paid parental leave isn't just about helping new parents, it's about our children. Our ability to spend time with them in their earliest days is essential. We hope the majority of U.S. companies that currently don’t have plans in place to support new parents will get on-board with that thinking."
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