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Etsy’s Gender-Blind Parental Leave Plan, an MLB Player Retires Because #FamilyFirst

Posted by Patrick Ball on 18 Mar 2016

Etsy introduced a gender-blind parental leave program

Happy Friday! ‘Twas quite a week for news on the work-life and work-family fronts.  

First, online retailer Etsy made headlines for its parental leave expansion, which will allow new moms and dads at the company to take 26 weeks of paid leave over two years. Then on Thursday, MLB slugger Adam LaRoche shocked the baseball world when he announced his plans to retire over his team’s choice to limit his 14-year-old son’s access to the clubhouse.

These were big stories, transcending the work-life world that we spend so much time in. So let’s talk about them.

Is Etsy’s ‘Gender-Blind' Parental Leave Plan, Like, the Best Thing Ever Or What?

You already know tech is leading the way on parental leave, with progressive plans aplenty coming from companies like Netflix, Amazon and Spotify over the past year. And now Etsy’s joining the club.

“When my wife and I adopted our son nearly four years ago, I took the full five weeks of leave we offered at the time,” said Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson in announcing the company’s expanded paid leave program. “It was the most important way I could have spent that time. Building a company is a team effort that includes the immense support we get from our families. I’m excited that our new leave policy will strengthen families and, as a result, the company as a whole.”

Starting in April, Etsy’s new moms and dads will be able to take 26 weeks of paid leave, an increase from 12 weeks of maternity leave and five weeks of paternity leave. What’s even more interesting about the plan is how the time can be divvied up – employees must take eight weeks immediately following the birth of their child, while the other 18 can be flexibly taken over two years.

On its blog, Etsy explained the eight weeks at the outset is intended to allow recovery time for birth mothers and critical bonding time for all parents. The ability to schedule the remaining 18 weeks over two years is in line with the flexibility new parents – and especially new dads – often want, according to research we've seen.  The blog further explains the decision to expand parental leave was influenced by a desire to support recruiting, retention and organizational values.

An oft-cited concern around paid parental leave – and paid family leave in general – is the financial implications, and who’ll manage the employee’s work while he or she is out on leave. And Etsy explains leadership is "assisting managers with leave planning” and “educating them on how to avoid workplace bias against mothers and fathers, and how to support their employees’ career aspirations through this period of life change.”

Now tell us: Is Etsy’s new parental leave plan a well thought-out model for other companies to follow? Or is it too generous to be sustainable?

You Won’t Believe Why One MLB Slugger Walked Away from $13M

Adam LaRoche, the erstwhile DH and first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, announced this week that he plans to hang up his cleats, punctuating his retirement tweet with #FamilyFirst pronouncement over the alleged directive handed down from team execs that LaRoche limit his 14-year-old son’s access to the clubhouse.

After news of LaRoche’s retirement plans broke more details emerged, including reports of outrage among White Sox players -- many of whom reportedly had no issue with the presence of 14-year-old Drake LaRoche -- over the top-down directive from execs out-of-touch with the clubhouse culture.

Another potential angle is whether the Major League Baseball Players Association will file a grievance on behalf of LaRoche, who reportedly joined the White Sox last year with the clear understanding that his son would be permitted to be around all the time.  

So what do you think: Does LaRoche’s retirement make him the early favorite for Father of the Year? Or is the expectation that your child should be permitted in your workplace at all times pushing the limits of what a family-friendly culture should allow? 

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