Netflix Transforms Employee Benefits - Year Long Parental Leave Policy

New 12-month Unlimited Parental Leave Benefit Launches at Netflix

Paid Parental Leave Pregnancy.

History has been made as Netflix, Inc., a leading entertainment technology company, has rolled out its new parental leave policy. According to reports, the parental leave policy allows employees as much as one year of unlimited and flexible paid leave to make things easier for new parents. This surprising move extends the traditional family medical leave (FMLA) dramatically, giving pregnant employees and their spouses the ability to better handle the work life balance aspects of starting a family.

Following suit were other technology firms, such as Adobe Systems, Inc., which announced they too were extending paid parental leave by as much as 16 additional weeks, making their leave a full 26 weeks for new mothers, and 4 weeks of paid leave for non-primary caregivers. Microsoft Corp. announced they would also give pregnant employees 20 weeks of paid leave and new fathers a full 12 weeks of paid parental leave. (Source: ABC News)

What spurred the need for an extended parental leave policy?

It is interesting that out of the 185 developed nations worldwide, the USA and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries that have not offered a paid parental leave to eligible employees, based on data from a United Nations International Labor study. Other countries, especially those in the European Union, have no problem with granting paid leave to new parents.

The Huffington Post ran an article this year that revealed the benefits of paid leave programs for new parents, and the impact on the business world.

Based on their review of a 2013 report published by the Human Rights Watch, workers who did not get paid leave from their jobs faced,” grave health, financial and career repercussions.” Further, because of a lack of adequate paid leave programs available to working parents, American companies miss out on, “productivity gains and employee turnover that leave policies generate in other countries.”

It’s clear that a more reasonable approach to providing eligible employees and their spouses a more generous paid leave has been in order for a long time in US workplaces. Pregnant women will no longer have to fear telling the boss they are expecting. Netflix’s decision to roll this out also makes good business sense. It will attract more skilled female employees and Millennials who are getting ready to settle down to start families of their own. Having access to employees who have more flexibility to manage the demands of their careers and personal lives will enable them to be happier, more productive, and more loyal to Netflix.

Companies like Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Google, Blackstone Group, and Vodafone Group Plc have also expanded their benefits for new parents. Google, which also offers $4,000 in “baby cash” to new parents, has stated that after they increased maternity leave to 18 weeks (from 12 weeks), they experienced less turnover from the mothers who took advantage of this benefit.

How can a company expand its parent leave benefits to eligible employees?

If your company is thinking about following the above types of expansive parental leave, it’s relatively simple to implement.

First, decide how many average weeks parents have requested off once they have used their FMLA benefits. Take a look at past maternity leaves to see if mothers returned to work or asked for additional time.

Second, create more flexibility in the job tasks themselves, to see if some of the work can be performed from home or on a part time basis for returning employees.

Lastly, work with the management team to come up with a reasonable staffing alternative for parents on leave, such as using a temporary staffing service or cross-training other employees to take over certain tasks.

Communicate your new and improved parental leave policy in writing and via special staff meetings to announce the new benefit. Include written instructions in your employee handbook to ensure compliance.