Duke Energy to provide paid parental leave

The Duke Energy Center in Charlotte.
The Duke Energy Center in Charlotte.

Duke Energy is offering paid parental leave for the first time, joining other large companies in Charlotte that have also expanded their benefits.

The Charlotte-based electric utility announced Thursday it will provide six weeks to mothers and fathers. An employee can start the six-week paid leave any time within the first 16 weeks after the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child.

Birth mothers can take at least 12 weeks paid time off, double the length of the previous benefit.

The benefits began Jan. 1.

“Paid parental leave will give Duke Energy employees important quality time to bond with their new children without the financial pressure of having to immediately return to work. That’s good for our employees and their children,” Melissa Anderson, Duke Energy executive vice president and chief human resources officer, said in a statement.

“Coupled with our other work-family benefits, paid parental leave also will help us recruit and retain the next generation of highly skilled workers,” Anderson said.

The move comes as other large corporations have recently unveiled more generous paid-leave policies.

Last year, Charlotte-based Bank of America announced 16 weeks of paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, up from 12 weeks previously. Wells Fargo followed, offering paid parental leave for the first time to full- and part-time employees. Employees can get up to 16 weeks for a primary caregiver and up to four weeks for a nonprimary caregiver following a birth or adoption.