Racetrac employee Jeanique Chestnut stocks the hot food bar at a Smyrna store in February. The metro Atlanta-based company has updated its benefits package with more paid leave for parents.BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

RaceTrac expands parental leave, including to dads

Convenience store giant RaceTrac is giving new parents — including dads — eight weeks of paid leave as part of benefits upgrades to retain workers and remain competitive.

The Atlanta-based company said the expanded leave kicks in for workers after one year of employment and offers secondary caregivers for children two weeks of paid leave.

Additionally, the policy applies to adoption, surrogacy and giving birth, as long as the time is taken within one year of the child being welcomed into the home.

RaceTrac made the changes after findings from a benefits survey the company conducted in 2014 of its more than 7,000 workers. A company task force evaluated options over the course of year before making the announcement, which affects workers in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

In addition to the parental leave, RaceTrac workers will now get one to three days in paid bereavement leave and a pay bump between 50 cents and $1.25 in hourly pay (average wages rise to $9.50 and $10.25 an hour).

The company also will allow “body art” as long as it is not explicit or visible on the face or neck.

“Our Store Support Center (SSC) team members expressed a desire for revised leave policies while our retail teams shared insights on compensation, dress code, staffing structure and on-the-job perks,” said Allison Moran, RaceTrac’s CEO.

“We took action and created an internal HR task force to drive policy changes that addressed the feedback specific to each group,” she said.

RaceTrac joins a growing number of companies updating leave policies for new parents.

Coca-Cola in April announced it would offer paid leave for new fathers as well as mothers — a step advocates said brings modernity to benefits packages stuck in the “Mad Men” era.

Facebook, Apple and Google already use generous parental leave benefits for both men and women — some as much as three or four months. Streaming giant Netflix and online arts and crafts marketplace Etsy offer as much as one-year and six-month leaves respectively to moms and dads.

The city of Atlanta last year began offering paid parental leave of six weeks for all city employees, no matter the gender, who are primary caregivers, while non-care-giver were offered two weeks of paid time.

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