Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's biggest beer company, has set a new global parental leave standard for its nearly-200,000 salaried employees in 52 countries.
Under the new policy, primary caregivers, who may or may not be the mother, will receive a minimum of 16 weeks of time off at full pay. Secondary caregivers will receive a minimum of two weeks off at full pay. This policy is inclusive of natural births, adoption, and surrogacy.
"We recognise that families come in different shapes, sizes, and format, and we've tried to be as inclusive as possible in this policy," David Almeida, AB InBev's Chief People Officer, told Business Insider.
AB InBev was formed as a merger of Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev and St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch in 2008. Its brands include Budweiser, Busch, Bud Light, Stella Artois, and Goose Island.
The brewing company's new parental leave policy also allows for in-vitro fertilisation leave and return-to-work transition programs. These programs would vary globally, and Almeida could not provide details on them.
Previously, the Leuven, Belgium-based company's parental leave policy included language about the "birth parent" rather than the "primary caregiver," as it does now. The birth parent could previously have eight weeks of maternity leave along with eight weeks of parental bonding leave for a total of 16 weeks.
Under the old policy, adoptive parents or fathers who chose to be the primary caregivers were not be able to take 16 weeks of paid leave. Now they can.
Language in family leave policies has attracted controversy in recent years. Fathers at JPMorgan Chase and CNN have sued their employers for not providing biological fathers the opportunity to have the same amount of paid leave after childbirth.
AB InBev's new global standard for paid leave is an improvement upon the primary caregiver laws in 33 of its 52 countries, Almeida said. Employees across Africa, Asia-Pacific North, and Latin America zones will particularly benefit.
"We are raising the bar in a significant way," Almeida told Business Insider.
While AB InBev's nearly-200,000 salaried employees worldwide fall under the new policy, Almeida said contractors are not required to follow these same policies, and benefits vary worldwide for AB InBev's hourly workforce. In the US, for example, hourly workers will not receive the benefit.
Almeida said the company's "massive global footprint" could set an example for the other countries in which AB InBev has a presence.
"Our leadership, in many ways, can be a positive influence," Almeida said. "In a lot of the markets where we operate, where we have a very strong presence, we tend to lead the way and other companies follow."
While companies like Netflix and Facebook have engaged in an "arms race" for excellent company benefits, those luxuries usually only extend to salaried office workers. The US, alone among industrialized nations, has no national parental leave policy.
In the case of AB InBev, Almeida said their parental leave coverage is still developing in America and globally.
"This policy is something that's in progress," Almeida told Business Insider. "Our initiatives on diversity and inclusion are fluid and progressing.