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Pregnancy Leave: Netflix Takes Leadership

NETFLIX FINALLY PAYS MOMS AND DADS 

In a move that may have significant ramifications throughout California, Netflix announced this week that it will offer its employees up to a year of paid leave after  the birth or adoption of a child, a testament to the financial resources available to the tech giant to do the right thing.   

While more and more companies are contemplating giving their employees paid time off for pregnancy or baby bonding, few have offered such generous benefits as this.  Paid time off for pregnancy is required in almost all countries except for the United States. European countries are light years ahead of the US in this area, requiring almost unlimited paid pregnancy and paternity leave for new parents.     

Many U.S. employers provide some kind of limited paid, short-term disability leave to their employees.  However, it is usually limited to anywhere from six or eight weeks, and the benefit is not different for pregnancy than for any mental or physical disabilities.   

Of all employers, just 21 percent offer a paid maternity benefit beyond the period they offer for any disability leave.  The case is even worse for new fathers, as just 17 percent of all employers provide any paid paternity leave. In cases where employers do offer paid leave, it's  usually for a period that does not exceed 12 weeks. 

Fierce competition for highly skilled tech workers, many of whom are in their child bearing years, is one of the main causes of this development.   While it's likely that some other major technology companies might adopt lengthy leave periods similar to Netflix, don't count on this expansion of paid leave to other sectors of the economy.  This sudden shift in benefits policies owes more to the sudden confluence of tech companies being flush with cash, a tight labor market for tech workers, and a strong need for continuity of staffing for ongoing tech projects. It is not representative of a newfound generosity a tech companies.     

Google offers  8 weeks of paid maternity leave.  Google parents have the right to take seven to 12 weeks of paid "baby bonding" leave.   California law requires only unpaid leave for the birth of a child.   Microsoft Corp.  announced Wednesday that it will increase total paid leave for new mothers to from to 20 weeks, from a current 12 weeks paid and eight weeks of unpaid leave. New fathers will get 12 paid weeks, instead of four paid and eight unpaid.

For a comprehensive guide to pregnancy leave rights in California, please visit the Pregnancy Discrimination Guide link on my website. 

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