Chobani's Latest Deal for Workers: Fully Paid Parental Leave

SOUTH EDMESTON, NY -- Six months after Upstate New York-based Greek yogurt maker Chobani announced plans to give its employees a stake in the company, it announced today it will offer its workers fully paid parental leave. The leave provides full pay for six weeks, and covers all full-time hourly and salaried employees. It can be used by both mothers and fathers for "birth, adoption or placement of a foster child into the home," the company said. Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya told employees at Chobani's Chenago County manufacturing plant today he wants the new leave policy to be a model for the country. In a letter distributed to workers, he said becoming a father himself "started a lot of conversations with folks about how we can better support new parents here at Chobani."

"Being part of this family doesn't stop when you leave the plants or offices, and neither does us caring about you," Ulukaya wrote. "What I learned is that the vast majority of companies, especially in manufacturing, don't have benefits for parents who've just had a child. That needs to change across the country and we needed to change it here at Chobani." In his remarks to employees, he made a special point of noting that all workers will qualify, regardless of where in the company their jobs are.

"It's not right to have this in office spaces but not in the factory," he said. "It's not right."

Chobani, the top Greek yogurt company in the United States, has 2,000 employees, about half them in Upstate New York. The company's Upstate operations include a manufacturing plant in South Edmeston and corporate headquarters in Norwich, both in Chenango County. It also has a plant in Twin Falls, Idaho and another in Australia.
chobaniEmployees at the Greek yogurt company Chobani, based in South Edmeston, N.Y., listen as founder Hamdi Ulukaya announces a 6-week paid family leave plan for employees.

In the United States, only about 13 to 14 percent of workers have access to paid parental leave, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world -- and the only industrialized nation -- that does not require companies to pay parental leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act, approved in 1993, provides 12 weeks unpaid leave to workers who meet certain qualifications (about 60 percent of the workforce) and guarantees their job when they return to work.

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a family leave bill that will provide New York workers 67 percent of their weekly pay for 12 weeks. It will be phased in starting in 2018 and takes full effect in 2021. It will be paid for by an employee payroll deduction. (By Don Cazentre |
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07