By Taylor Garre

Fast casual salad chain Sweetgreen announced via Instagram last week it will offer five months of fully paid parental leave to team members with new additions to their families. The benefit extends to a range of family circumstances including new mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and foster parents.

Sweetgreen's policy change follows a growing trend among U.S. companies. Although paid parental leave is not a national requirement, in 2018 alone, 20 companies in the private sector changed their parental leave policy. That's according to the organization Paid Leave for the United States.

With this new policy, Sweetgreen joined the ranks of companies tossing old parental leave standards to the wayside in favor of more inclusive, and longer, paid leaves.

Nicolas Jammet, co-founder of Sweetgreen, spoke to Cheddar about implementing the new policy for his employees across the United States. "It's actually something we released in January company wide, but didn't announce it," the co-founder said. "After seeing how positive the response was from our team and how much it meant to them, we decided this was something that should be happening throughout the industry."

Jammet said his team members asked for a change and the company heard their requests. "We know there is nothing harder than having a full time job and having a family," he added.

When asked how Sweetgreen settled on the five-month timeline, Jammet said, "We thought about the time needed to spend time with their family and recover. We felt like five months was a really great amount of time."

He said the new policy is not only a great employee retention tactic for his over 3,500-person team but a useful tool for recruiting new staff as well, "It allows us to keep great talent within the business and attract great talent as we're getting ready to grow."

Jammet told Cheddar that ultimately it comes down to making team members feel supported, "We have an incredible range of team members that are from all different types of communities, and we wanted to make sure that our policies were fully inclusive and support everyone."

The Sweetgreen co-founder is hoping the company's policy change will inspire others. "We are hoping other people really start thinking about this as a benefit and it can become standard," said Jammet.