Volvo today announced more than 40,000 employees around the world now are eligible to take paid parental leave of up to 24 weeks.
The “Family Bond” program will be available to legally registered parents, including adoptive, foster care and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents for same-sex couples, Volvo said. Under the plan they can take leave anytime within the first three years of parenthood.
“We want to create a culture that supports equal parenting for all genders,” said Volvo Cars Chief Executive Officer Håkan Samuelsson. “When parents are supported to balance the demands of work and family, it helps to close the gender gap and allows everyone to excel in their careers,” said Samuelsson, adding that the move, “in turn, will strengthen our brand.”
Paid parental leave less common in U.S.
The program will impact Volvo employees in Europe, China and other parts of the world, including those at its New Jersey headquarters and manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina.
While extensive parental leave is widely available in a handful of countries, notably in Europe, the new program covers Volvo employees everywhere, including the U.S., where the concept is far less common and often covers a shorter period.
America is, in fact, the only developed nation where parental leave is not mandatory, though a 2020 study found that 72% of Fortune 500 companies do offer some form of paid program.
But the study by Ball State sociology professor Richard Petts and Davidson College sociology professor Gayle Kaufman also found in the U.S., a third of the Fortune 500 companies that do offer paid parental leave offer twice as much time off to mothers than fathers.
Volvo’s new program covers parents and legal guardians no matter what their sex and provides identical benefits to all. Under the program, those taking leave will receive 80% of their normal base pay.
“This is more than a new parental leave policy for our employees — it is the embodiment of our company culture and values,” said Hanna Fager, head of corporate functions. “We want to lead change in this industry and set a new global people standard. By opting all our employees into paid parental leave we narrow the gender gap and get a more diverse workforce, boosting performance and strengthening our business.”