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Apple updates employee benefits for new parents, bolsters mental wellness program

Apple on Wednesday announced a set of updated employee benefits that will help new parents transition back to work, offer additional financial assistance to those who adopt and provide more mental wellness options for all.

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The revised plan gives all new parents a four-week "grace" period when they return from leave, during which time they are paid as full-time employees but have the option to work flexible part-time hours under a manager's oversight, reports Fast Company.

Apple's new policy is open to all new parents, including those who adopt or take in foster children, and is in addition to the company's standard 16-week leave for birth parents or six weeks leave for non-birth parents.

"What we find a lot of times is people are really excited to get back to work," said Apple's head of retail and Human Resources Deirdre O'Brien. "At the same time, [they] feel like they need to make sure things are really stable and successful at home. And that weighs heavy on people's minds, I think."

Along with the new grace period option, Apple is expanding benefits for adoptive parents. The company now offers an additional four weeks paid leave through Paid Family Care, a benefit typically extended for family illness, and provides up to $14,000 in financial assistance to help offset costs associated with the adoption process. That figure is nearly three times what the company previously paid out.

"There's more administration and complexity around adding to your family via adoption," O'Brien said.

Finally, Apple is doubling the number of free annual counseling sessions available to all employees as part of an expands to its mental wellness program. The company is also providing telemedicine alternatives for workers who desire a more flexible healthcare solution.

"I think many times working parents feel like they need to deal with that quietly and make it seem perfectly seamless," O'Brien said. "We all know life is complicated. So [we're] making it really clear that we're supporting them in that journey."

The updated health benefits, particularly those impacting new parents, are a response to feedback O'Brien received after talking to employees about the challenges they face when transitioning back to work, the report said.