On Tuesday, Netflix made a huge announcement that they were increasing their paid family leave to one year for both mothers and fathers after welcoming a new addition to their family. This decision was met with much applause, cheering and hope that other large companies would follow suit.
Well, it didn’t take long. The very next day, Microsoft, announced on their blog that among other benefit increases, they are extending their paid family leave as well. Now, the leave isn’t as generous as Netflix’s, but keep in mind that while Netflix has about 2,000 workers, Microsoft has about half of its 110,000 employees in the United States.
Currently, Microsoft offers eight weeks of fully paid maternity leave to new mothers, and 12 weeks (four paid and eight unpaid) of paid parental leave to all parents of new children. As of November 1st though:
…we’re enhancing our paid Parental Leave to 12 weeks, paid at 100 percent, for all mothers and fathers of new children. For birth mothers, this is in addition to the eight weeks of maternity disability leave they currently receive, paid at 100 percent, enabling them to now take a total of 20 weeks of fully paid leave if they choose.
Microsoft is also acknowledging that mothers about to give birth and may need some additional time off leading up to delivery by offering two paid weeks of Short Term Disability Leave before their scheduled due date. Both Microsoft and Netflix are offering flexibility with how parents take their leave so they can phase back into work.
Paid family leave matters, but America hasn’t seem to have caught on.
Kudos to both Microsoft and Netflix for showing how you really value hard-working employees. There is no greater gift you can give to new parents than the opportunity to bond with their newborn. Birth mothers also need time physically to recover from giving birth and there can be complications with mother or child that require extra time.
It seems like common sense that employees aren’t going to be able to do their best work if they are preoccupied with the new baby they had to leave at home. The birth or adoption of a new child is probably the most major life event an individual or couple can experience and it requires time, physical and mental energy, as well as financial resources.
According to a 2013 Pew Research report, the U.S. ranks dead last out of 38 countries for new parents in government-supported time off and is the only country to not require any paid leave for new mothers. Because some people seem to think the economy would crumble in apocalyptic-style fashion if the government required more support, it is currently up to individual companies to change the thinking that newborn’s development (or the mother’s health) don’t really matter.
The beginning of a change?
Two large companies may not quite qualify as a trend and more American companies need to follow suit. Thankfully, Microsoft and Netflix are not the only notable companies that seem to understand it is not only good for new families, but good for business to offer paid leave. A list by Business Insider also notes the following companies:
- Twitter – 10 paid weeks for new parents, and 20 paid weeks for the birth mom
- Facebook and Instagram – 17 paid weeks for both new parents
- Google– 12 fully paid, stock-vested weeks for primary care givers, 7 for other caregivers, and 18 for the birth mom
- Reddit– 16 paid weeks for both new parents during the first year after a birth or adoption
- Yahoo– 16 paid weeks for new mothers, and 8 for either parent
- Yale University– 8 paid weeks for fathers and adoptive parents, and 10 for birth moms
- Bank of America– 12 paid weeks of parental leave
At lease one expert seems to think this trend will continue, as reported by USA Today:
The work being done by academics, politicians, and organizations to change the expectations around parental leave in the U.S. has been building up over the last decade,” says Katherine Phillips, senior vice dean of the Columbia Business School.
However, Phillips notes businesses must make sure employees can feel comfortable taking the time off without worrying about the potential impact on their careers. “It’s not just about making the time available,” she said, “We have to change the values, the expectations and the stigma that surrounds using this time off for parenting requirements.
Let’s do it America. Let’s shift our values to what really matters. It is obviously a gradual process, but it can be done on both a personal and broader level.
Featured Image via Pixabay