Starbucks’ New Parental Leave Is Nice—Unless You’re A Barista

Starbucks coffee cup with notepad and pen

Starbucks has an amazing new paid parental leave policy: New parents, whether you’re a biological mother, a biological father, or an adoptive parent — get 12 weeks of paid leave, and if you went through the trauma of childbirth, you get an extra six weeks on top of that. Pretty awesome, right?

Well, yeah, if you’re a white collar worker. Marie Claire reports that baristas — the long-suffering, green apron-ed, beatific coffee brewers you bark at every day for your soy, sugar-free, extra-hot caramel macchiato — aren’t privy to that benefit. Instead, biological mothers get six weeks of paid leave, and fathers are SOL.

Baristas Jess Svabenik and Kristen Picciolo met with suits from Starbucks to discuss their lack of maternity benefits, and unfortunately, their concerns didn’t quite register with the white-collars.

“They didn’t seem to understand why we would want the same the kind of benefits as corporate staff,” Svabenik, who’s pregnant with her fourth child, told Marie Claire. “They were kind of confused that we were there. That’s the hardest part to process: That there are people who reap these kinds of benefits and aren’t interested in passing them on to those in a lesser position.”

Starbucks rep Reggie Borges told Marie Claire that their benefits, including their maternity leave policy, are “something we take a great deal of pride in” and that their maternity leave policy goes “far above and beyond the standard for retail” employers. That’s true! They do great things! But Borges failed to address the disconnect in corporate’s eyes between someone with a desk job needing time with a newborn and someone working on her feet all day, delivering a baby, and then having to come back to steaming milk and angry caffeine addicts not needing the same.

There shouldn’t be class warfare over coffee, and yet here we are.

Share This Post: