Sweetgreen, the place you drop $13 on a salad or a warm bowl because you “forgot” to meal prep for the third week in a row, has announced that employees are now entitled to five months of parental leave. This ranks it as one of the best parental leave policies among major food brands.
“At Sweetgreen, mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents, and others with new additions to their families,” will all be eligible, and a Sweetgreen representative told Eater the policy will cover both restaurant and corporate employees, full time and part time. “We believe it is our responsibility to lead the way, given the U.S. is one of the few countries that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents,” the company said in a statement.
Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires mothers of newborn and newly adopted children be allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they work for a company with more than 50 employees. There are no federal requirements for fathers or other parents, for foster care, or laws requiring that leave be paid, and it doesn’t meet the 16-week standard recommended by the WHO.
While Sweetgreen might earnestly want to provide for their employees, they also probably see the writing on the wall—food workers are becoming much louder about the conditions they face. McDonald’s employees are both striking and suing the company over sexual harassment complaints, better wages, and union rights. They’re planning a strike in 13 cities for this Thursday. Last year, Starbucks expanded its parental leave policy. (In the food industry, motherhood specifically can often be a trap for women chefs.)
Sweetgreen has been making other strides toward inclusivity recently, such as reversing their classist, discriminatory cashless policy, which was implemented under the guise of “convenience” for both customers and employees. Local governments have already started banning cashless restaurants, so maybe this time, they can take a page out of Sweetgreen’s book and implement some paid parental leave policies.