Sweetgreen to offer employees 5 months of parental leave

Sweetgreen — a salad chain started by three Georgetown University graduates — is making headlines for adopting a generous parental leave program. Employees will now get five months paid time off following the addition of a new family member.  

Many customers outside of the Sweetgreen location in Clarendon FOX 5 talked to Wednesday applauded the company saying “it’s about time.” Others wondered how the fast-casual chain would be able to afford it. Either way, five months is a pretty big deal in one of the only developed countries without a paid parental leave program.  

All of Sweetgreen’s nearly 4,000 or so employees at its 94 locations and corporate headquarters are eligible for five months paid leave — full and part-time. The policy will include mothers or fathers of any new addition to the family — be it a birth, adoption or fostering. 

For comparison, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees a workers job security at large companies for up to 12 weeks, but there’s no guarantee of pay.  

Out of Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, only the District guarantees eligible employees a form of paid leave — up to eight weeks. 

FOX 5 asked a spokesperson for Sweetgreen how the company could afford this policy change. 

“When we were thinking, we looked around at other leaders in the space take a stance and support our team members. We looked around and saw that Bloomberg, Netflix and Airbnb were all very supportive of their teams and we wanted to do the same and we hope this inspires other companies,” said Kirby Bumpus with Sweetgreen. 

Netflix offers unlimited leave for any new parent within the first year, but when it comes to food, Sweetgreen will now offer more time than big names like Starbucks and McDonald’s. Meanwhile, &pizza — another fast-casual chain that began in D.C. — did not want to disclose their current policy but told FOX 5 they are currently working on a big update.