More Companies Expanding Parental Leave Benefits

Amazon joins ranks of other large companies expanding parental leave benefits

Amazon has announced that it is expanding parental leave benefits to 20 weeks for new moms that are full-time hourly or salaried employees, and a Leave Share policy that allows Amazon employees to share up to six weeks of parental leave with the new dad or other parent partner that works at another company. It is one of several companies, including Accenture, T. Rowe Price, Microsoft, Netflixx, Google, Facebook and Yahoo, who have recently expanded parental leave policies that actually offer paid time off.

What I find interesting about the Amazon policy is the Leave Share. According to Amazon, Leave Share is designed help families address the financial challenge of taking unpaid time off, we’ve invented a new program called Leave Share, which allows you to share all or a portion of your six-week parental leave with a spouse or partner who doesn’t have paid leave through his or her employer. The Leave Share is great for first-time parents who both are adjusting and want to bond with the baby, but especially helpful for parents who have older children. It allows mom to recuperate and spend time with the new baby, while Dad helps keep the other kids on schedule. And it's just nice to all be home as a family together. 

Though the policies are now in place, the question is how managers will treat employees who choose to use them. Of course, there should be no discrimination, but pressure to perform is part of workplace culture, especially at the big e-commerce giant Amazon. The new policy at Amazon follows some bad publicity on the poor treatment new parents were getting from Amazon. I have insider knowledge that Amazon is a pretty cut-throat place to work and quota trumps employee care, so I hope this is a step in the direction of better respect for the people pushing out all those packages we love arriving at our front doorsteps.

And beyond just treating people with kindness and compassion, employers benefit from giving employees paid parental leave. How you ask? 

1. Less turnover. If you respect an employee enough to give them paid parental leave, they are much more likely to return to work, which equals less turnover and less time spent (wasted) training a new employee.

2. Keeping good talent. Respect garners respect. 'Nuff said.

3. Productivity. Yes, productivity. There is this pervasive myth and old-school thinking that new parents can't be as productive as single counterparts. Have you ever seen a mom multitask! It's amazing. Productivity on point can be a result of flexibility and trust of an employee who is a parent.

As I'm about to depart on maternity leave, I'm glad to see more companies recognizing this is good for business. Though a company may run like a well-oiled machine, it's only as good as the sum of its people! And people are parents, and parents with newborns deserve a minute to relax and enjoy their new bundle without worrying about how they are going to pay the electric bill, as well as simply recover from physical labor, not to mention the emotional toll that adding a tiny human to your world can cause. Business is business, but when it comes to the full scheme of life, can't we all agree that the brief period of time we have with children as babies is worth the cost of parental leave?