Netflix’s chief talent officer, Tawni Cranz, announced the decision in a blog post.
The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act entitles employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off a year in the event of a birth, adoption or the arrival of a foster child.
Parents can also decide whether to use their leave all at once, or split it into two periods. (The timing of the Microsoft announcement is a coincidence and has nothing to do with Netflix’s news, says a spokesman.).
Netflix isn’t the first company to offer extended parental leave.
That said, Netflix is taking a significant step forward.
Netflix is on its way from being a big hit with parents to being outright adored.
“I would definitely say this is contagious”, she said. “When men take leave, the message is that this is something that not just women do, but parents do”. They had to time Ethan’s birth to happen in the spring so she could have the summer off on top of that leave.
These changes are encouraging, but far too many employers have yet to realize that employees need policies that provide more time and financial support to balance their responsibilities as parents and workers.
Netflix should be commended for its ample policy. But not all companies will necessarily want to do that. Silicon Valley businesses tend to have the most progressive benefits, though some still favor mothers over fathers.
Last month the U.S. Navy tripled the paid time off offered to new mothers in the Navy or Marine Corps, from six weeks to 18 weeks.
Only four states-California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island-currently have paid maternity leave that is publicly funded.
Tech companies may have more reason to offer these benefits than those in other fields, due to this sector’s competitive hiring nature. The company was researching maternity leave policies when an employee became pregnant, which was a first for the then 5-year-old company. Many people can’t afford to miss that much work without pay and the majority of Americans work in small or mid-sized firms with fewer than 50 employees. In fact, the US stands alone among wealthy countries in not providing paid maternity leave. As a way to encourage women to both work and have babies, countries began offering paid maternity leave. But it can’t be denied that when it comes to employee benefits, these firms are raising the bar in the United States, offering packages that go well beyond what is required by national law.