- Reynolds American, maker of tobacco brands like Newport and Camel, will begin offering 16 weeks of paid parental leave with an additional eight months of flexible scheduling in January.
- The benefit applies to both mothers and fathers, as well as to parents who are giving birth, using a surrogate, or adopting.
- The benefit will be industry-leading and among the best in the United States, which does not have a federal parental leave policy.
- This article is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
Starting in January, tobacco company Reynolds American will have an industry-leading parental leave policy. All of its just over 5,000 full-time employees will be able to take 16 weeks of paid leave, with an additional period of flexible scheduling in the following eight months.
This flexible time is tailored to a specific employee’s needs and expectations, and can result in a maximum of 64 additional paid days of modified working – like working from home with reduced hours or taking a full day off – contingent on that employee working for three full days each week.
It’s a significant change from the existing policy, which is 16 weeks of unpaid leave offered only to mothers, and with no flexible time.
Glassdoor data on American companies’ parental leave policies shows that Reynolds’ new policy will be among the best in the United States. The US does not have a federal parental leave policy, although it appears most Americans want it. Business Insider’s Rachel Gillett has reported that the start of a federal policy in the US will have to be private businesses getting on board – and they are, slowly but surely. Tech companies in particular have made headlines for progressive parental leave policies, some after their leadership became parents themselves.
Reynolds is the maker of tobacco brands like Newport, Camel, and Grizzly, and was acquired by British American Tobacco, the world’s largest international tobacco company, for $54.5 billion last year. Candice Brown, Reynolds’ VP of talent management, told Business Insider that the benefit is the result of researching what both employees and those in the job market were asking for.
“We recognized that it’s important to our existing employees, and certainly important to the employees we hope to attract for the future,” Brown said.
Brown said that she expects the benefit to both increase existing employee engagement and to increase the diversity of its workforce, which is predominantly male, with a 70-30 percentage split between male and female employees. A third of its workforce is identified as “millennial,” translating to somewhere under the age of 38.
Brown said that the benefit will be announced to employees on Monday, and as a mother of two “who is still getting up for 2:00 a.m. feedings right now and still a bit tired,” it’s a day she’s especially happy about. She wants employees and prospects to see that Reynolds recognizes that the first year of parenthood, regardless of the particulars, is filled with doctor visits and bonding time – “all the things that are part of the parental experience, now we’re able to help our employees with that.”
“It’s a really big deal,” for the company, she said.