Today at The Makers Conference, Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg made a major announcement: The company has extended its bereavement policy and will now offer up to 20 paid days off for employees who have lost an immediate family member. Those mourning the passing of an extended family member will be given 10 days of paid leave. And Sandberg didn't stop there: She also issued a call to action, asking other leading companies to step up their paid leave policies. Currently, only 60% of U.S. workers in the private sector receive paid leave when a loved one dies — and even if they do, it's often just a couple of days. Sandberg, who is no stranger to grief — having lost her husband Dave — knows that's not enough. Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post that "amid the nightmare of Dave's death when my kids needed me more than ever, I was grateful every day to work for a company that provides bereavement leave and flexibility. I needed both to start my recovery. I know how rare that is, and I believe strongly that it shouldn't be... We need public policies that make it easier for people to care for their children and aging parents and for families to mourn and heal after loss. Making it easier for more Americans to be the workers and family members they want to be will make our economy and country stronger."
Facebook is also leading the charge in paid parental leave (offering four months for all new parents), as well as paid family leave (up to six weeks within a rolling 12-month period) for employees who need to care for an ailing loved one. On top of that, Sandberg announced a new "paid family sick time" policy that covers short-term illness as well — such as staying home to care for a kid who has the flu. All of this is in addition to Facebook employees' 21 annual days of paid time off, plus unlimited sick time. "At a time when nearly nine of 10 working women in the United States have no parental or family leave, women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and there's no system of national paid leave, companies need to step up and lead," Sandberg concluded in her post. "I hope more companies will join us and others making similar moves, because America's families deserve support." Amen to that. Our message to the rest of America's most influential companies: We hope you're watching, and that you, too, are prepared to make paid leave happen — for the benefit of employees and the economy. And maybe you could also match Sandberg's $1M donation to Planned Parenthood while you're at it? Cool, thanks.