Parental Leave Makes Big Advances Among Major Tech Companies In 2015

Date: December 29, 2015

Companies Adopting Paid Leave Policies Even Without National Policy

In a laudatory story, the Huffington Post said 2015 has “been a banner year” for paid parental leave as companies “started taking the initiative to expand benefits for employees who were becoming new parents.” The story highlights 16 major companies which expanded their family leave policies, saying it “makes zero sense that the United States remains the only developed country without a paid leave policy.” The impressive list of companies profiled for expanding paid leave policies is laden with technology firms and includes such industry-leading luminaries as Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Paypal, and Ebay.

At the top of the list, Netflix is praised for its “very generous package to new parents,” which provides salaried employees “up to 12 months of paid leave” and hourly workers “between 12 and 16 weeks, depending on which department they work for.” In second place, Amazon expanded its paid maternity leave from eight weeks to 20 weeks and added paid paternity leave as well. The company unveiled a six-week leave-share program, where parents returning early from their paid leave can get paid for the remaining time in order for their partners to take time off to be with their babies.

What Happens Next

At the national level, paid family leave is not a front burner issue, although Democratic leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid chided new Speaker Paul Ryan for his conditioning his acceptance of his new job on his commitment to spending time with his own family but rejecting parental leave legislation. In the presidential campaign, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Socialist challenger, Bernie Sanders, have both called for national family leave policies, but the issue is a dead letter in the Republican primary. However, parental leave legislation has been brought up in numerous state legislatures over the past year.

What This Means For Small Businesses

It is not at all clear that firms of all sizes can afford to offer employees such generous benefits as those in the tech industry, which offer premium employee compensation packages. Small businesses have been increasingly addressing employee needs through paid time off (PTO) policies that allow personnel and employers flexibility. As the Huffington Post story points out, big tech firms are increasingly offering paid leave on their own, in the absence of a national policy. A national or state paid leave mandate would only add another regulatory burden harmful to the interests of the small business community.

Additional Reading

The NFIB addressed the paid leave issue after President Obama called for Federally-funded studies at the state level earlier in 2015. The NFIB summarized the positions Clinton and Sanders took during their first debate, including on paid leave. The Hill reported on Clinton’s call for family leave and other expansive policies. Separately, The Hill reports on Sander’s support for family leave.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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