Netflix Expands Its Parental Leave Policy

Courtesy of Netflix.
Netflix announced on Tuesday a very progressive new benefit: All employees are now eligible for up to one year of paid parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child.

"We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances," Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s chief talent officer, wrote in the post. "Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed."

This policy is one of the most generous in the United States, one of the few countries that does not mandate paid family leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, men and women who work full-time are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave. According to the Department of Labor, only 12% of U.S. workers have access to paid parental leave. California (where Netflix is based), New Jersey, and Rhode Island are the only states that offer paid-leave policies.

In recent years, there's been a push for more and more businesses to expand their parental leave policies. Facebook offers 14 weeks; Google offers 18. Richard Branson made headlines this summer when he announced expanded parental leave at Virgin Management, though the new policy only applies to the 140 employees in the London and Geneva offices who have worked for the company for at least four years.

There are some who argue that one year is too long, and that women who take the full leave risk being put on the "mommy track." But, since Netflix's policy includes paid time off for both women and men, it will be interesting to see how these extended absences affect the careers of new parents.

The New York Times noted that Netflix stock rose to a new high after the announcement. Proof that parental leave is in fact good for the bottom line? One thing is certain: With a year off, the new mothers at Netflix are less likely to be sharing breast-pumping-at-work horror stories.
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