Yesterday Netflix announced that they would be offering new parents unlimited maternity and paternity leave for the first year following a child's birth or adoption. It is also highly important to note that this unlimited parental leave is PAID.
Why would the streaming movie giant take this risk? According to Netflix's Chief Talent Officer, Tawni Cranz, the reasoning is simple: "people perform better when they are not worrying about home." In other words, eliminate the "worry" and promote performance. Tawni further states: "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."
Yes, you read that correctly. Netflix also has had an unlimited vacation policy for salaried employees since 2002.
Netflix's new parental leave policy is a clear stance in favor of work-life balance and certainly the sign of a trend that merits a conversation nationwide. Currently, the only federal law in the United States regarding maternity and paternity leave is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enacted in 1993. Although this federal statute requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer 12 weeks of job-protected leave for the certain qualifying events, such as the birth or adoption of a child, this leave is unpaid and often difficult to manage. For many families, unpaid leave is simply not an option and the requirement of "job-protected leave" has been interpreted by courts to actually mean that the employer need only return the employee to the "same or similar position" in terms of pay and scope of duties. This is all, of course, assuming the employer has an adequate HR department to properly handle FMLA leave (which is a lot harder than you may think). In terms of state equivalents, only a handful of states have them (less than 10) and North Carolina is not among those that do.
Will this Silicon Valley trend follow across the country to North Carolina? Maybe. At the very least this is a conversation companies should be having. It is completely understandable that unlimited time off is not an option for an employer but everyone should at least have a parental leave policy in place. Work-life balance is consistently ranked among young talent as a top concern with job hunting so being prepared to accommodate this concern is key to maintaining (and retaining) talent in your company.
If you would like to discuss your options in more depth, want a FMLA refresher, or would like a maternity/paternity policy drafted, give me a call and we can chat. Also checkout our Business Resources page for more information from the Department of Labor. #themoreyouknow