In the United States, employee benefits like paid vacation, health care, and even maternity or parental leave have long been subjects of contention. As other countries all over the world begin adopting extended parental (both maternal and paternal) leave, the U.S. is being left in the dust. It is now one of the very few countries left in the world that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. Actually, the only other countries that don’t provide paid maternity leave are Papua New Guinea and Suriname - seriously!
Of course, there are laws in place to protect employee rights, like FMLA. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects an employee’s job for up to 12 weeks in a given year for the birth or adoption of a child, but that is without pay. FMLA also only covers about 60% of the country’s employees, as there are specific criteria a company must meet before qualifying under the act. Then there are all the qualifications an employee must meet, including how many hours they have worked for a company and the little concern about being able to survive (with a child) for 12 weeks without a source of income.
Some employees are “lucky enough” to find a private sector job with extended, paid benefits that allow them to take paid maternity leave, often for 6-8 weeks. According to the Department of Labor, though, only about 12% of companies actually pay for their employees to take parental leave. But of course, there have been generous improvements, especially in the last few years alone, that will hopefully make paid parental leave a right rather than a privilege.
There have, just in the past year, been massive advancements in the U.S. parental leave arena, probably due to the newest numbers indicating we are, in fact, in last place when it comes to parental leave out of all other developed nations. In 2016, President Obama actually released a unique memorandum, ensuring that federal employees could request “240 hours of advanced sick leave, at the request of an employee and in appropriate circumstances, in connection with the birth or adoption of a child…”
States and cities have also started taking the issue of parental leave into their own hands, with California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island leading the charge. In most of these cases, employees are given paid leave at a certain percentage (55-65%) of their original income, and generally for 6 to 8 weeks.
But the real movement has occurred in the private sector, namely in the tech and data industries that are blossoming in the current climate. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, the big data and tech industries are leading the charge when it comes to promoting paid parental leave. However, there are unexpected places where more attention is being paid to parental leave, which hints at bigger and better things to come for the private sector as a whole.
As data scientists, we are naturally inclined towards gathering the latest numbers and ranks, so below is a list of the top 10 ranked companies with the best parental leave policies, ranked by length of maternity and parental leave, as well as any bonuses that affects the company’s rank.
How does unlimited time off sound after having or adopting a child? Netflix lets their “salaried streaming employees” - about 1,800 people - take as much time off in the first year after having/adopting a child as they want. Also unprecedented is Netflix’s hourly employee parental leave policy: 16 weeks for streaming hourly employees, 14 weeks for customer service employees, and 12 weeks for DVD employees - all at full pay.
See all jobs at Netflix
The crafting giant Etsy just established, in April 2016, a six-month parental leave policy for any parent, no matter if you are the birth mother, father, adoptive parent, or even a surrogate. While the first 8 weeks can be taken immediately after the birth or adoption, the remaining 16 weeks can be dispersed over the course of 2 years. Etsy also offers unprecedented surrogate and adoption support for employees trying to start a family, as well new parent coaching to make transitioning back to work easier for everyone.
See all jobs at Etsy
Adobe just announced in 2016 that they were increasing their maternity leave from 16 weeks to 26 weeks (including 10 extra weeks of medical leave to be taken at a birth mother’s discretion). They also established parental/paternity leave at 16 weeks - surpassing other companies in the industry.
See all jobs at Adobe
Twitter’s new parental leave policy (which just went into effect May 1, 2016) gives qualified employees 20 weeks of paid time off. This means any parent, regardless of gender or birth status, can take that time off over the course of the first year. This is a huge leap from their previous 10 weeks off for dads and adoptive parents, showing that Twitter understands the importance of every parent’s first year with their child.
See all jobs at Twitter
Everyone wants to work at Google, and it’s probably because they’ve got their benefit packages nailed down. Birth mothers get 18 weeks of maternity leave, while other parents (adoptive or fathers) get 16 weeks. However, Google now allows primary caregiver fathers to earn 18 weeks of leave, as well. Mothers who experience complications get 22 weeks, and Google even helps parents place their children in qualified daycares when they return to work. When Google upped their parental leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks in 2007, they quickly noticed a 50% drop in female quit rates after having a baby. Obviously, their efforts are working.
See all jobs at Google
Facebook, along with offering 17 weeks in parental leave, also offers “Support for family planning: adoption and surrogacy assistance, and baby cash to help with newborn expenses.” Who doesn’t want $4,000 in “baby cash” right on the cusp of a 17 week parental leave? Employees that qualify (whether mom, dad, or adoptive parent) can take the 17 weeks all at once or dispersed over the first year.
See all jobs at Facebook
Since Facebook owns Instagram, their corporate employees also get 17 weeks of parental leave, whether biological mom/dad or adoptive parents. They do not get the same “baby cash” as their Facebook counterparts, though.
See all jobs at Instagram
The online social media and discussion aggregate is doing more right than just websites. They provide 16 weeks off for both parents, whether spaced out over the first year or taken all at once. Reddit also offers unheard of health care stipend benefits (up to $1,500 a month!), which can drastically cut the costs of having a child.
See all jobs at Reddit
Possibly one of the more “baby-friendly” corporate environments, Yahoo overs 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and 8 weeks of paid time off to fathers and adoptive parents. They also provide $500 in “baby cash,” and they throw "new child showers” for anyone who has a baby, is expecting, or is planning a family. A lot of this is credited to Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s first pregnant CEO.
See all jobs at Yahoo
For birth mothers, Microsoft now offers a staggering 20 weeks off, but that is broken down into 8 weeks “disability” and 12 weeks paid time off. That same 12 weeks paid time off is offered to fathers and adoptive parents, and can be used by switching to a part time schedule or dispersing their time off (it cannot be taken all in one chunk). Previously, the company only offered 4 weeks paid time off.
See all jobs at Microsoft
Shockingly, it’s not always the massive, long-established companies or biggest banks who are offering the best parental leave benefit packages. Sometimes, the most drastic offerings come from small “startup” companies that make it big well after they’ve established these great policies. There is something to be said about making your employees happy, and even more to be said about attracting the right talent by providing them what they want most. Work-life-family balance is no longer a joke in corporate circles; it’s a necessity.
While many analysts and experts doubt that many people will actually use the entire length of their provided parental leave, many more believe that it will become “normal” for employees to enjoy the first year of their child’s life without worrying about work or expenses. It turns out you can have a family, a fulfilling career, and a full bank account. The myths of previous generations aren’t standing up to the current corporate climate, and it’s exciting to see the changing of the tides.
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