NYTimes Article: Netflix Offers Expanded Maternity and Paternity Leave

Netflix announced an unlimited leave policy for new parents – far exceeding the 12 weeks of unpaid leave offered under the Family Medical Leave Act.

By Emily Steel, August 5, 2015

Netflix announced on Tuesday that it was starting an unlimited leave policy for new mothers and fathers for the first year after the birth or adoption of a child.

As part of the new maternity and paternity policy, employees will receive their normal pay. They will be able to return to work part time or full time, and they may also return to work and then take additional time off, if needed.

This policy far exceeds typical such leave at corporations in the United States, where there are few federal policies aimed at working parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides employees at companies of a certain size 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

“Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field,” Tawni Cranz, chief talent officer at Netflix, said in a blog post on the company’s website.

“This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”

Tech companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco have often been among the most progressive when it comes to family leave.

At the high end is Twitter, which offers up to 20 weeks of paid maternity leave and 10 weeks of paid paternity leave. Facebook offers four months of paid leave for both new mothers and fathers, as well as $4,000 for each new child born or adopted. It also subsidizes day care and programs for adoption, egg freezing or surrogate parenting and sperm donation programs.

Google extended its paid maternity leave to 18 weeks from 12 weeks in 2007. After the extension, the company found that returning mothers left Google at half the rate they were previously, said Roya Soleimani, a company spokeswoman. New parents, regardless of gender, “who plan to take an equal or primary role in their child’s care during the first year can receive up to 12 weeks of paid baby bonding time (this includes adoptive/surrogate caregivers),” she said.

That time includes stock vesting — a big deal in tech — and benefits. Other big tech companies like Apple and biotechnology companies like Genentech offer programs similar to their Silicon Valley neighbors. In June, Virgin Management — part of the Virgin Group, founded by Richard Branson — announced a policy of one-year paid parental leave at two European offices, though eligibility for the full benefit requires four years’ service at the company.

Netflix made its announcement on the day that shares in the company rose to a new high, at $122.79.