Recently, tech companies have been leading the way on parental leave, announcing expanded options for new parents.
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Here are four of those companies doing leave differently:
In August 2015, Netflix announced that it would start offering unlimited parental leave for the first year after a child is born or adopted. The new policy dovetails with the company’s unlimited vacation policy. Netflix, however, has been under some fire after an initial round of praise, because not all employees have access to the benefit. Some critics also question whether the company’s culture will allow employees to even take the company up on its offer of unlimited parental leave.
Right on the heels of Netflix’s announcement, Microsoft extended their parental leave offering. The new policy allows parents to take 12 weeks of paid leave. New moms who give birth to a child are also eligible for 8 weeks of paid disability leave, giving them a total of 20 weeks of paid time off after the baby is born.
The music streaming company offers all full-time employees six months of paid parental leave. The leave can be taken all at once or split up into as many as three chunks. Parents can even space out their leave over the course of the child’s first three years.
Facebook has long offered four month parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child for some employees; however, starting on January 1, 2016, all full-time employees, including dads and same-sex parents, will have access to the four month leave benefit. The social network is also continuing to lead by example as CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he plans to take two months of leave after his daughter is born -- a very different choice than the one made by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, taking only two weeks off after the birth of her son.
While major companies changing their policies to be more family-friendly is important, it can also be problematic.
In a 2015 interview, Joan Williams, director of the University of California Hastings Center for WorkLife Law, explained to NPR: “If you handle parental leave at the enterprise level, the incentives for the enterprise are to give a rich benefits package to highly valued, high human-capital workers and not give it to hourly workers. . . .That’s just a structural reality, if you don’t have what every civilized, industrialized country in the world has, which is parental leave financed at the national level. The reality of relying on the market to deliver what should be a basic benefit of citizenship is that hourly workers end up on the short end of the stick.”
Looking for more information about paid leave? The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has useful resources, and NPR lays out the political dynamics currently surrounding paid leave. Josh Levs, who stood up for fair parental leave and won, has practical tips on how to ask your employer paid leave for yourself — and for dad.
Interested in taking action? Join 1,000 Days in telling Congress that it’s time for paid parental leave. The For Karl campaign also has tools for contacting your members of Congress and the 2016 presidential candidates.