Target expands parental leave and child care benefits to include part-time workers

This May 3, 2017, file photo shows the logo on a Target store in Upper Saint Clair, Pa. Target said it plans to hire about 100,000 workers for the 2017 holiday season. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Target is improving parental leave and other family-related benefits for its 360,000 salaried and hourly workers -- including part-time employees -- as the discount retailer competes for labor in a tight market.

Starting at the end of June, Target's new family leave policy will give workers in its stores, distribution centers and corporate offices up to four weeks of paid time off to care for a new or ailing family member.

In the fall, the company said it would extend backup child care or elder care now offered at its headquarters to its stores and distribution centers. Workers will get 20 days of backup care through a partner network or workers can bring their offspring to an in-network center for $20 a day or pay a subsidized rate for in-home care.

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With unemployment at 3.6%, its lowest in decades, Target and competitors including Amazon and Walmart have hiked pay and expanded benefits to hang on to employees and burnish their reputations as places to work to attract new employees.

"We've taken a strong position on minimum starting wages, but that's just one facet of our team member experience," Melissa Kremer, Target's chief human resources officer, said in a statement.

Target hiked its starting pay to $13 an hour, and plans to bring it to $15 by next year, a level already paid by Amazon and Costco. Walmart raised its base hourly wage to $11 last year, and CEO Doug McMillon last week called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, unchanged since 2009, telling shareholders at the retailer's annual meeting that $7.25 is "too low."

While the odds of getting Congress to hike the federal minimum wage is viewed as a long shot, an effort to pass paternity leave legislation could be successful, according to one prominent person advocating for it, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. "We've found support from the left and the right even in this contentious time," Ohanian told CBSN on Monday.

The fact that the private sector is tackling the issue is a good first step, but the lack of a national policy is "disgraceful given we are a country that knows family matters," said Ohanian, who also cited research that found one in four American women were back at work within two weeks of giving birth, calling that statistic "shameful."