Target is expanding parental leave, including for hourly and part-time workers

An early Christmas for Target workers.
An early Christmas for Target workers.
Image: AP Photo/Julio Cortez
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Target announced that it will expand childcare benefits and family leave for 350,000 employees at its stores, warehouses, and headquarters office—regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time, salaried or hourly.

Starting June 30, Target’s new paid family leave policy will offer workers up to four weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn or a sick family member. Starting in autumn, workers at Target stores and distribution centers will receive 20 days of in-center childcare or in-home backup child care or elder care.

Historically, the availability of paid family leave has been skewed toward high-paid workers in white-collar jobs. 

But amid a tight US labor market, and in an industry with unusually high turnover rates, retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Amazon have been competing with one another in pay and perks in order to attract and retain talent.

In April, Target announced it would increase its minimum hourly wage by $1 to $13 starting in June. That’s higher than Walmart’s $11 hourly minimum, but below Amazon’s and Costco’s minimum wage of $15. Target has said it expects to pay a minimum hourly wage of $15 by the end of 2020.

Increasingly, employers are pointing to more generous parental benefits as a competitive advantage. Starbucks, for instance, last year sweetened the deal for its store employees, offering six weeks paid leave for all parents, not just birth mothers. But like a lot of other retailers and restaurant chains, the company has different benefit tiers for its staff, with salaried workers typically eligible for more generous perks. When it announced the six weeks of leave for baristas, Starbucks already was granting up to 18 weeks of maternity leave to salaried birth mothers and up to 12 weeks of leave to salaried non-birth parents.

On parental benefits, Target seems to have one-upped its biggest bricks-and-mortar rival. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, offers paid parental leave benefits for all full-time hourly and salaried store workers, as well as 10 weeks of paid maternity leave for women who have worked at the company for at least 12 months. But Walmart’s program does not include part-time workers, who account for 40% of the company’s US hourly employees.

Target also said it recently doubled the reimbursement amount it offers to hourly or salaried employees who incur adoption or surrogacy fees.

An earlier version of this article erroneously reported the percentage of Target workers with children at home. The statistic from Target’s website in fact refers to Target’s customers. The reference has been removed.