At times this year, it felt like companies were trying to one-up each other, offering more and more generous parental leave policies.
The announcements rolled in one after another this summer, forming a trend described as an “arms race” to attract and retain female talent. Over the course of the year, another trend emerged – many of these companies weren’t just offering long, or longer, maternity leaves; they’re building upon traditional policies and redefining what a modern parental leave program can look like.
Here, we’ll take a look at seven companies changing the parental leave game with innovative policies designed to work like our modern families and companies do.
In an announcement featuring White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, Spotify unveiled its parental leave program to provide six months of paid maternity and paternity leave for its full-time employees across the globe. The six-month leave will be available to all new parents at the company, including adoptive parents and same-sex couples, for the first three years of a child’s life. And, to help new parents transition back to work, Spotify is allowing a month of flexible work options, including work from home, part-time and flexible hours options.
Another interesting wrinkle introduced by the Sweden-based digital music company is that Spotify isn’t guaranteeing employees their same job when they return, through their role will be ‘commensurate with that employee’s current level of experience.” This last piece is consistent with what’s available to many parents in Europe, where months-long leave for new moms are commonly mandated as national policies.
Earlier this year, Netflix made waves by introducing a new policy offering unlimited maternity leave and paternity leave policy. You read that correctly. Unlimited paid leave for all new parents during the first year after their child’s birth or adoption, to be taken at the parents’ own discretion and implemented at the manager level.
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One of the most controversial policies on the list would have to belong to Domo, a 600-person business management platform provider based in Salt Lake City. Whereas its leadership believes the 5-year-old company can’t offer the long, or unlimited family leave bigger companies are offering, Domo is catering to female talent by offering $2,000 in gift certificates so pregnant employees can buy maternity clothes from retailers like Nordstrom, A Pea in the Pod and ASOS.
It's not all style and no substance, though. Domo does offer new moms a month of maternity leave at full pay and another six weeks at 66 percent of their salary; new dads get two weeks of paid paternity leave, and all new parents get $1,000 in “baby bucks.”
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When Amazon expanded its paid leave for new parents, it introduced an innovative “leave share” program that would allow employees to share their benefits with a spouse or partner … who doesn’t work at Amazon.
So here’s how it all works: Birth mothers have access to 20 weeks of paid leave in total; that includes four weeks of pre-partum medical leave and 10 weeks of paid maternity on top of the six weeks of paid parental leave that all parents get. It’s those six that fall under the Leave Share program, which enables parents who to share all or a portion of those weeks with a spouse who doesn’t have access to paid leave. In effect Amazon would be subsidizing the unpaid leave for the other parent by paying out weeks of untaken/shared leave in the employee’s next paycheck.
As an added bonus, Amazon is also introducing a “Ramp Back” program that aims to help birth mothers and primary caregivers make a smoother transition back to work by working for eight weeks at a reduced schedule.
One of the first headline-makers of 2015 was Vodafone, which become one of the first organizations to roll out a policy defining minimum maternity leave benefits for new moms at all levels at the group’s 30 operating companies across the globe. New moms at Vodafone will be offered at least 16 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, followed by a six-month period during which they can work 30-hour weeks and receive their full salary.
RELATED: For Working Moms, What's After Maternity Leave?
In June, Nestle announced its new parental leave policy that provides 14 weeks of paid leave to full-time and part-time primary caregivers, along with the right to extend their leave by an additional six months of unpaid time off. Nestle also committed to employment protections, flexible arrangements and breastfeeding rooms.
But what's really interesting about what Nestle is doing is committing to reporting out results about how many of the employees who take leave are with the company six, 12 and 18 months after returning to work. Across Nestle’s 51,000 American employees and 300,000 globally, they figure to provide a substantial sample size in support of the business benefits for paid parental leave.
What’s innovative about what Optimizely has done is not so much the parental leave policy itself, but rather the way they’re open sourcing the business case and using their own financial model to advocate for more companies to provide paid parental leave. Check it out here.
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