Time, Together: One Walmart Family’s Experience with Parental Leave

Carter family of five with newborn son

July 24, 2019
By Elizabeth Walker, Kyle Jones and Matt Orcutt

Bringing home a new baby is a time filled with adorable snuggles, sweet moments… and quite a bit of chaos. From diaper changes to doctor visits, the first few weeks with a newborn are always an adjustment, and families need all hands on deck to keep things running smoothly.

Stephen and Melissa Carter were already proud parents of Elsa, 6, and Gemma, 3, when they welcomed their third child, a son named Leo. After Leo’s birth, Stephen, a Walmart associate, took advantage of Walmart’s six-week paid parental leave.

Walmart parental leave with the Carters

It wasn’t Stephen’s first time taking parental leave while at Walmart. Years before, when Gemma was born, the company’s policy allowed for two weeks of paid leave. But two weeks goes by fast with a newborn, and Melissa, still recovering from childbirth, struggled to provide care for herself, her toddler and the new baby.

In January 2018, Walmart expanded their paid parental leave policy from two weeks’ leave to a full six weeks of paid parental leave for full-time hourly and salaried associates. This applies to dads, non-birthing moms and adoptive parents in the U.S. Birth moms can take more.

When you’re at your best at home, you’re at your best at work.
Stephen Carter, Walmart associate and dad of three

The extra time meant Stephen could be there as Melissa healed from childbirth and prepared for her own return to work. In addition to taking care of the day-to-day, he could bond with Leo and help his daughters navigate the transition. Stephen was able to support and care for his family when they needed him most, and because of this, the entire crew was healthier and happier.

“When I knew that he was going to be home for six weeks, it relieved so much anxiety,” Melissa said. “I knew I was going to have the support I needed to recover from childbirth, carve out time to connect with my children and prepare to return to work myself.”

The expanded leave policy has helped make Walmart a leader when it comes to benefits.

“We know when we invest in our people and provide the type of job experience they are looking for, they can better focus on taking care of customers,” said Jackie Telfair, SVP of Total Rewards for Walmart.

With an expanded leave policy, associates can give their families the most important investment of all: time.

Photography: Angelina Lopez