WASHINGTON ― Rolls-Royce has announced a new employee benefits package funded by tax credits from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress.

The new package, two years in the making, introduced six-week paid parental leave ― of which two weeks are supplemented by credits from the tax cut. It also introduced two weeks of paid family care leave and an adjusted bereavement leave entitlement to accommodate nontraditional family structures. Other enhanced benefits include: fertility treatment, gender reassignment, equal benefits for same sex couples and bariatric surgery.

The enhanced benefit package is “less about the 1980s work-life balance and more about work-life integration,” said Summer Smith, Rolls-Royce’s head of human resources in North America.

After consulting with employee focus groups and recognizing employee needs had evolved, the leadership group determined the company, which is based in Britain, should “not be so restrictive,” Smith added.

Still on Smith’s wish list: more flexibility in time off, potentially allowing for employees to take longer paid or unpaid sabbaticals.

For the first time, Rolls-Royce is seeing “folks who have responsibility for their own children, who perhaps they are having later in life, but also responsibility for their parents,” who may need more attention and care as they get older, according to Michelle Pool, Rolls-Royce’s HR and culture program manager

The company believes these changes will allow it to compete and retain top talent and enable employees to perform at their best at work and in their personal lives.

Since the tax cuts were announced, other major players in the aerospace and defense sector have also been using an influx of cash to support employees and consumers.

Lockheed Martin, for example, is exploring employee training and educational offerings, increasing charitable contributions in science, technology, engineering and Mathematics, and increasing the company’s ventures investment fund for early-stage companies developing disruptive technology.

Days after the tax cuts were passed, Boeing committed to $300 million to charitable giving, workforce development, and infrastructure and facility upgrades.

Companies have also used the newfound capital to pre-fund required pension contributions. Lockheed put $5 billion into its pension trust in 2018, fulfilling its obligations through 2021. Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Harris Corp. put $1 billion, $500 million and $300 million, respectively, into their pension trusts.

While defense companies have enjoyed this cash influx in the short term, the benefits may not last. The Pentagon is reportedly looking to earn back some of the tax benefit from defense companies either by renegotiating existing contracts or repricing items on future ones.

Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.

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