Jess resents having to make the choice at all so soon after giving birth. As a retail employee of the country’s most profitable coffee chain, she is entitled to six weeks of parental leave at partial pay after Roman is born. (Her leave will probably be unpaid, since she has worked at Starbucks for less than one year.) But starting on 1 October, employees at Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters – just an hour’s drive from Jess’s home – and its other corporate offices will be entitled to 16 weeks of fully paid leave upon giving birth, and fathers or adoptive parents will get 12.
Announcing the new policy in January, Starbucks called it “reflective of our mission and commitment to be a different kind of company and put our people first”.
But the new policy doesn’t increase the length of leave for in-store workers who give birth, or for new fathers and adoptive parents, who will continue to get none.
Paid maternity leave is part of the total compensation on offer for the job being done.
The management bods get higher total compensation than the baristas. What is so hard about this to understand?
Do note that this is absolutely nothing at all to do with whether there should be tax paid maternity leave in the US, as there is in the UK. Rather, this whining is “why do those other people get more than I do.” Well, because of the job you do.
As the company’s announcement received laudatory headlines, Jess joined a group of Starbucks baristas and store managers in asking the company: why are we treated differently?
“It is in no way fair to the average worker,” Jess says. “You can’t have corporate without us. So why would one have a better benefit than the other?”
Why should they be getting higher compensation at all?