WeightWatchers has introduced six months of paid parental leave for eligible full and part-time employees in the US.
Chief executive officer (CEO) Sima Sistani, who joined the business in March, announced the new initiative on her LinkedIn page, explaining that she thinks society has taken a step back on what should be a key issue for businesses today.
She introduced the policy so as to address the fact that paid parental leave is not federally guaranteed in the US, and it is up to individual states and employers to offer this.
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Sistani cited a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, which found that only 35% of employers offered paid maternity leave in 2022 beyond what was legally required, down from 53% in 2020. Additionally, only 11 states offer paid parental and medical leave funded through employee-paid payroll taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Sistani said: “As a CEO and working mother, I believe in creating gender equity for caregiving. Investing in equitable bonding leave not only creates gender balance and equity in care-taking but is also linked to improved health and economic outcomes of women, children and families.
“At our core, WeightWatchers is about health and wellness and that is why it is one of the first policies I set to change since joining the organisation earlier this year. I will continue to champion this work and do my part to support public policy that mandates paid leave federally. I encourage other business leaders who want to make a positive impact on our teams around the world to do the same.”
WeightWatchers has followed in the footsteps of other US employers, such as GSK Consumer Health, which offers 26 weeks of paid leave, and JPMorgan Chase, which announced this week that it will give 16 weeks of leave to all new parents starting 1 January 2023.