Unlimited leave isn’t necessarily a dream come true

Netflix stirred envy in sleep-deprived parents nationwide by saying it will give its employees up to a year of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child.


Well, kind of. The specifics go like this: The first year a child is born or adopted, both parents can take as much time off as they want. Plus, they’ll be able to return to work part-time or full-time, and they may also come back and then take additional time off, if needed. Many tech companies offer generous benefits as they compete to attract talented engineers and other workers.

In an industry where the demand for top talent is way larger than the supply, technology companies have to offer the best benefits they can to retain the best people in their ranks.

The costs of the global expansion have been holding down Netflix’s profits, but investors haven’t minded because the company has been quickly winning over new customers. Among those in the survey is Twitter, which offers 20 weeks of paid leave to mothers and Google, which offers mothers up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave (or up to 22 weeks if there were complications at birth).

Federal law guarantees new parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave, though only at companies with 50 or more employees.

In a blog post on their website, Netflix stated that the policy was intended to allow new moms and dads to easily balance the needs of growing families without worrying about their job or incomes. At Facebook Inc., for example, all new parents get four months of paid leave, plus an extra $4,000.

With the policy, Netflix joins a host of other tech companies offering substantial paternal leave packages. Outside that, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island use a program funded by payroll taxes to provide some paid family and medical leave, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. How many people will actually avail themselves of a one year leave?

The US is the only nation in the developed world not to mandate paid maternity leave for workers.

And good luck if you work for a startup that isn’t a big player in Silicon Valley. In fact, the US stands alone among wealthy countries in not providing paid maternity leave.


In his January State of the Union address, Mr Obama said: “It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is”.

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