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Volvo Expands Paid Leave Program for Parents

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Volvo Cars announced that it will introduce family leave to its 40,000 employees worldwide. The company’s Family Bond policy is available for both parents, offering employees at least 24 weeks’ leave at 80% of their base pay any time within the first three years of parenthood, according to a press release issued by the auto manufacturer. The policy includes all legally registered birth and non-birth parents, including foster, adoptive and surrogate parents.

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Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson stated in the press release that the act is one part of creating a “culture that supports equal parenting for all genders.”

For years, California has had a paid family leave act, giving paid leave to employees. In 2017, New York introduced what was considered the most robust PFL package available in the states. Fully phased in by 2021, the program provides up to 67% of the current statewide average weekly wage. In 2020, both Connecticut and Massachusetts legislators signed Paid Family and Medical Leave Acts, with Massachusetts benefits going into effect in 2021 and Connecticut’s program rolling out in January 2022, with employers starting to collect withholding taxes for premiums this year.

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However, it’s not always easy convincing American fathers to take paid leave to care for children. Even in Sweden, fathers took only 30% of leave days allocated for parents, Bloomberg reports.

In New York, only 27% of PFL claims in 2018 came from fathers, insurance carrier ShelterPoint reports, with only 17% using the maximum eight weeks of leave provided for parents in 2018. In California, which has had a program in place since 2004, only 36% of fathers claimed PFL in 2017.

Volvo intends to encourage parents of all genders to take leave by making it a pre-selected option and avoiding ambiguous language such as “up to 24 weeks.” Additionally, the company plans to communicate the leave through various channels and share participation results over time — both to employees and other companies — to encourage widespread adoption of similar programs.

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