Mar 18, 2023 - Business

What Chicago's biggest employers offer for parental leave

Select Chicago-based companies' family benefits
Data: Axios Research; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Parental leave policies vary widely depending on which Chicagoland organization you work for.

Why it matters: Paid parental leave benefits families, research shows, and offering more generous policies is one way employers can recruit and retain workers in a tight labor market.

  • We polled a dozen of the largest employers in the area, ranked by Crain's Chicago Business, plus some other recognizable companies, to see what they offer.
  • Below are responses by company representatives, unless otherwise noted.

Of note: If your company is missing from the list, drop us a line. Some firms didn't respond or declined to respond to Axios.

Chicago Public Schools

The school district has 41,669 employees, as of the end of 2022.

Paid family leave: Birth parents are eligible for six or eight weeks of short-term disability pay while they recover from the birth.

  • District employees who are eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
  • Non-birth parents who are eligible for FMLA receive two weeks of paid family leave within one year of the baby’s birth or adoption.
  • Some employees may also receive extra time off under supplemental child-rearing leave, from six months up to four years of unpaid leave to bond with their child.

Fertility: CPS does not offer a paid benefit for fertility directly but does offer services and treatments under the group health plan. This coverage includes fertility preservation services.

  • The new expanded bereavement leave allows an employee to take up to two weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to grieve in the event of a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss. An employee may also be eligible for short-term disability if experiencing mental health symptoms and undergoing treatment with a medical provider.

Adoption: The district promotes assistance for adoption services through its Employee Assistance Program.

City of Chicago

The city has 31,100 local employees.

Paid family leave: Last year the city expanded its policy to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for all parents (birthing and non-birthing).

Fertility: The city offers eight weeks for gestational surrogates but up to the 12-week maximum for certified postpartum complications that keep the employee out of work longer than eight weeks.

  • A birthing parent may be eligible for up to eight weeks of paid leave in the event of a stillbirth.
  • The city's health care plan provides medically necessary coverage for the diagnosis and/or treatment of infertility, including in vitro fertilization, for example.

Adoption: Adoptive parents are eligible to receive the same 12 workweeks of paid leave that all new parents are offered.

Amazon.com Inc.

Amazon has more than 35,000 employees in the Chicago metro.

Paid family leave: The company offers up to 20 weeks of fully paid leave for birthing parents and up to six weeks of fully paid leave to supporting parents and adoptive parents.

  • Amazon’s Leave Share program allows employees to give six weeks of paid parental leave to a spouse or partner whose job doesn't provide paid leave.
  • Amazon also offers parents eight consecutive weeks of flexibility and partial work hours after the birth or adoption of a child as they readjust to work schedules.

Fertility: Employees enrolled in an Amazon-sponsored medical plan (and their dependents) have access to Progyny for fertility and infertility treatments.

Adoption: Amazon offers up to six weeks of paid leave for parents who adopt.

  • It also reimburses employees for qualified expenses such as adoption and attorney fees, court costs and travel, up to $5,000 per child.

Northwestern Medicine

The health system has more than 25,000 employees.

Paid family leave: Northwestern Medicine offers six weeks paid leave to the birth parent at 100% of their base pay, which includes the first week using paid time off.

  • Northwestern Medicine also offers four weeks parental bonding paid at 100%, meaning the birth parent gets 10 weeks paid.
  • Non-union, full-time employees are eligible if child is born on or after the 180th day of employment.

Northwestern Medicine also offers a short-term illness and injury plan. It did not provide details about fertility or adoption offerings.

University of Chicago

UChicago has about 10,000 local employees, not including Medical Center staff.

Paid family leave: An employee with less than one year of service who gives birth to a child may receive short-term disability benefit payments of 60% of base wages. 

  • The benefit begins after the employee’s sick leave accruals have exhausted or 14 days, whichever is later, and the short-term disability period (including waiting period) lasts up to six weeks postpartum for a natural delivery or eight weeks for a C-section.
  • In addition to short-term disability, all benefits-eligible employees who have completed one year of service prior to the date the baby is born are eligible to receive up to six weeks of paid parental benefit of 100% of base wages. 
  • This applies to both the primary and secondary caregivers. The six weeks must be taken in one continuous block of time and must be completed by the baby’s first birthday.

Fertility: Medical plans include fertility benefits. 

  • Employees who experience a miscarriage, stillbirth or issues concerning reproductive procedures, adoption, surrogacy, etc., as specified in policies, may take up to five days of paid bereavement leave within 60 days of the qualifying event.
  • Employees may take up to an additional five days of unpaid leave to be taken consecutively with their paid leave.

Adoption: Benefits-eligible employees can receive financial support to help defray adoption expenses up to $5,000 per adoption (and $10,000 per lifetime) for qualified expenses, per household.

Walmart Inc.

Walmart has 3,000 associates in the Chicago metro area.

Paid family leave: Qualified full-time hourly and salaried associates who give birth receive up to 16 weeks of paid time off.

  • New parents, including adoptive and foster parents, receive six weeks paid parental leave to bond with a new child.
  • Walmart also offers eligible associates up to two weeks of paid family care to care for an immediate family member who suffers from a serious health condition.

Fertility and adoption: In 2022 Walmart expanded employee access to fertility, surrogacy and adoption support, partnering with benefits provider KindBody's nationwide network of facilities.

  • The company also offers financial support of up to $20,000, lifetime maximum, for eligible surrogacy and adoption expenses.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase has about 14,000 employees in Chicagoland.

Paid family leave: Both primary and secondary caregivers get a minimum of 16 weeks paid leave, extended to all employees globally.

Fertility: Employees and covered dependents who are enrolled in the company's U.S. medical plan may receive fertility benefits for services such as in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination.

  • The firm may pay for or reimburse qualified, non-duplicative fertility expenses up to a lifetime maximum of $30,000 per enrolled employee or dependent for fertility-related costs including prescription drugs.
  • Qualifying surrogacy expenses may be reimbursed up to a lifetime maximum of $30,000.
  • In addition, the firm provides 20 days' paid leave for miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

Adoption: Eligible employees may receive assistance with qualifying adoption expenses up to $10,000 per child.

The Kraft Heinz Co.

Kraft Heinz has around 1,500 area employees. Parental leave benefits are provided to all U.S. employees, including manufacturing plant employees.

Paid family leave: Primary caregivers receive eight weeks of paid time off.

  • Secondary caregivers get four weeks of paid time off.
  • In addition to paid parental leave, birth mothers are offered additional paid leave based on disability approval.
  • The company offers a four-week phase-back period for primary and secondary caregivers in an office-based position.

Fertility: Company medical plans provide coverage for fertility-related services, specifically support for IVF.

  • The firm also offers bereavement leave for miscarriage or other pregnancy loss.

Adoption: Primary caregivers receive eight weeks of paid time off, and secondary caregivers get four weeks paid.

  • Financial assistance for adoptions is $5,000.

Mondelēz International

Mondelēz has about 370 full-time, non-union employees in Chicagoland who are eligible for the benefits described below.

Paid family leave: All caregivers (including primary, secondary, birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents) receive 10 weeks of paid parental leave at 100% of pay. 

  • Parental leave can commence any time in the baby’s first year. This leave is in addition to the disability leave that birth mothers qualify for under the short-term disability plan.
  • New parents can request part-time status for up to 90 days after returning to work.

Fertility: The firm offer fertility benefits for non-union employees and their adult dependents covered under company medical plans. 

  • It does not provide financial support or leave for miscarriage.
  • It offers a stipend of up to $10,000 per child ($30,000 per lifetime) on a rolling 12-month basis for reimbursement of surrogacy expenses.

Adoption: The company offers a stipend of up to $10,000 per child ($30,000 per lifetime) on a rolling 12-month basis for reimbursement of adoption expenses.

No response: United Airlines and Walgreens Boots Alliance declined to participate by the deadline.

  • McDonald's Corp., Advocate Health, Cook County and the U.S. government did not respond to Axios emails.
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