Smucker’s sweetens leave benefits for employees

The J.M. Smucker Company is enhancing leave and company-provided vacation benefits for its 7,000 workers in a bid to retain and attract talent while promoting employee wellbeing.

The Orrville, Ohio-based food manufacturer, known for its jam, ice cream toppings and other products, is introducing 12 weeks of paid leave for all employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. It’s also expanding its vacation time from two weeks to three weeks for employees with less than five years of tenure and introducing a pet bereavement leave – one day of time off following the death of a pet.

The benefits will go into effect Jan. 1.

The benefits “provide employees the opportunity to take the time they need to fully experience life’s important milestones and moments,” says Jill Penrose, senior vice president of human resources and corporate communications at Smucker’s. “We are committed to the wellbeing of our employees and believe promoting work-life integration is a critical aspect of that commitment.”

For birth mothers, the company’s new 12-week paid parental leave policy is in addition to the 12-week short-term disability benefit it already provides; both are fully paid.

See also: How 3 companies are helping employees on their parenting journey

Smucker’s joins a handful of companies that have rolled out or enhanced leave benefits for parents in the last year. Buzzfeed, Unum and Hilton are among the employers who have recently boosted their paid parental leave policies as more companies look for ways to help new parents on the job.

“Parenting is a defining moment for employees. Anyone who becomes a parent knows it’s life-changing,” Jason Russell, director of North America total rewards at SAP America, said last month at the National Business Group on Health’s Workforce Strategy conference in San Diego. “So we think about, as an employer, how we help them become better parents and better employees.”

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Overall, around 27% of employers offer paid parental leave benefits, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. Industry experts say that offering such a benefit not only helps employees, but also the company at large.

“In addition to being the right thing to do for our people, we believe these updates will be beneficial for our business, as they will allow employees to better focus on their professional responsibilities and continued development when they return to work,” Penrose says.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.