Tech Companies Led the Way Expanding Paid Parental Leave Policies in 2015

Other Employers Should Now Follow  

The tech industry is famous for setting trends in providing innovative perks and benefits to employees. In the second half of 2015, this pioneering spirit continued for the tech industry as a craze began among highly visible companies to expand their paid parental leave policies.

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act requires qualifying employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who elect it for the birth or adoption of a child, there is no federal law that requires employers to provide paid parental leave.  Paid parental leave is a perk offered at the employer’s discretion, and many employers do not offer such leave.  The U.S. remains the only developed country without a paid parental leave legal requirement.

In August of 2015, Microsoft announced that it would more than double its paid maternity leave policy from eight weeks to 20 weeks. And, Netflix, in addition to adopting an unlimited vacation policy, adopted an unlimited parental leave policy.  Less than a week after the Netflix and Microsoft announcements, Adobe announced that it would expand its parental leave to 26 weeks for new moms.

In November 2015, Facebook expanded its four-month paid parental leave policy to workers outside of the U.S. Amazon increased its paid parental leave to 20 weeks. Spotify announced that it was providing six months of paid leave to all full-time employees globally.  The real estate platform Zillow Group announced that it would increase its paid maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks, offer eight weeks of paid parental leave for all employees, and offer $1,000 for a “baby bucks” stipend.

Tech companies have caught onto the fact that generous, parental-leave policies are very valuable to employees with family responsibilities and that those individuals are a critical part of the employee talent pool. The move also evidences a cultural shift toward employment policies favoring greater work-life balance and has coincided with companies adopting such policies as unlimited vacation time.

The hope is that this flurry continues into 2016 and that companies in other industries take notice of this tech-industry trend and follow in adopting and expanding their own paid parental leave policies.

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