19 Companies and Industries With Radically Awesome Parental Leave Policies
It's sad but true: The U.S. is still one of only four nations in the world that fails to guarantee the right to paid maternity leave. Sweden, on the other hand, is unequivocally the sweetest country for working moms or dads, lavishing parents to a whopping 480 paid days off per child. Several top companies here in the U.S. are finally starting to catch up with the progressive Scandinavian nation, particularly in the tech sector.
IKEA announced in December that it expanded its paid benefits to up to four months for new parents -- a major breakthrough for a company in the retail industry. Last year, Netflix unveiled a trailblazing unlimited paid leave policy for new moms and dads, inviting them to take off “as much time as they want” in the year following the birth or adoption of a child. Software giant Microsoft also upped its parental leave offering. Adobe quickly followed suit, doubling the paid maternity leave it grants employees.
Glassdoor recently released a list of companies with the top 20 best employee benefits and perks. Amazon and American Express made the list because they both offer some of the best parental leave packages. Adopting new programs and giving mothers up to five months of paid leave, it’s no wonder these companies are so highly regarded.
The message is clear and long overdue: American companies are finally grasping that workers with families require more flexibility than ever before. To get the best out of them -- and to keep them from jumping ship -- employers must step up and seriously support their charges. It’s a smart business move, one that we hope goes viral, coast to coast.
Here are 17 leading companies offering exceptionally generous parental leave policies:
Although the 130,000 people that make up Ironworkers union are mostly male, the union has still taken it upon itself to make sure that its 2,100 female members get benefits as well.
Announced in April 2017, female ironworkers across the country can now take up to six months of paid maternity leave. Women who take advantage of this benefit are supposed to use the leave prior to the birth of their newborn, and after delivery receive an additional six to eight weeks of paid leave.
“The challenges of physical work associated with the ironworking trade create unique health challenges that can jeopardize a pregnancy,” the union said in a statement.
On top of medical reasons, the new policy is also beneficial in retaining female employees and reducing the need for companies to hire and train new employees -- a process that can be expensive.
“We’ve always had women, but never had an abundance of women. And many of them were leaving the industry after we spent an inordinate amount of time training them,” Iron Workers General President Eric Dean said. “It’s socially the right thing to do … but it’s not a bad business proposition either.”
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In Oct. 2015, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced its new parental leave policy, offering its employees 52 weeks of paid time off for new mothers and fathers during the first year of the child’s birth. “This will enable parents to participate more fully in their children’s lives, while also allowing them the flexibility and financial certainty to meet the needs of their growing families,” Steve Rice, the Foundation’s chief HR officer, said in a LinkedIn post.
In addition, the organization also shared its new vacation policy, giving employees unlimited time off.
After some backlash from employees about poor parental leave policies in 2015, the company launched two programs to support new parents. In addition to giving new mothers up to 20 weeks of paid leave and new fathers up to six, Amazon launched its first program, “Leave Share,” that allows Amazon employees to share their paid leave with their partners, if their partners' companies don’t offer their own paid leave program. Employees can share up to six weeks of parental leave with their partner -- for example, a new mother who works at Amazon could use 14 weeks of her paid leave and give her partner the value of the remaining six. (Of course, it's up to the discretion of that individual's employer whether to grant the leave.) The new mother would return to work and those six weeks that she shared with her partner would be added to her next paycheck.
Its second program, called “Ramp Back,” helps new moms and primary caregivers ease back into the workplace. Over a period of eight weeks, new parents can work at a reduced schedule as they become re-accustomed to work.
Each of these programs are available for all salaried and hourly Amazon employees, including those in corporate, customer service and fulfillment centers.
In December, American Express announced its new parental leave policy giving new parents -- birth, adoptive or surrogate -- up to five months of fully-paid leave. The policy covers both part- and full-time employees. American Express also rolled out new parental benefits program for prospective parents, offering employees $35,000 to assist with adoption or surrogacy.
Started in April of last year, Etsy announced it will be giving parents up to six months of paid parental leave. Not only that, but the company has gone so far as to offer new adoption and surrogacy benefits as well coaching programs for new parents and their managers.
“It was the most important way I could have spent that time. Building a company is a team effort that includes the immense support we get from our families,” said Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson.
In a recent blog post, Etsy published a short film about the success and positive response it has received from employees over the parental leave policy. Since it was established, 48 employees, with an equal number of men and women, have taken advantage of the new policy. Of these employees, 35 percent have been promoted -- showing that the new policy has had no negative effects.
Check out the video here.
Starbucks has adopted a new parental leave policy -- which before only covered new mothers -- offering paternity leave to fathers, same-sex couples and adoptive parents.
Before the new policy -- which takes effect Oct. 1, 2017 -- Starbucks baristas who were new mothers could take up to six weeks of paid leave at 67 percent of their annual pay. The new policy offers any new parent up to 12 weeks paid leave at 100 percent of their annual salary. To be eligible, parents must work a minimum of 20 hours a week.
District managers, field partners and headquarter employees who are new parents can take up to 18 weeks paid leave, and non-birth parents can take 12.
Swedish furniture company IKEA has expanded paid benefits to up to four months for parents with a newborn in their lives. The policy applies to dads, moms and adoptive or foster parents, and to both salaried and hourly employees as well.
Extended paid leave like this is not as common in the retail sector as it is in industries such as technology and finance. For example, Wal-Mart offers 90 days paid maternity leave and 14 days paternity or adoption leave to salaried employees. Target doesn’t commit to any paid parental leave policies.
With its roots in Sweden, it’s no surprise the music streaming company offers an awesome parental leave policy. Spotify offers six months of paid leave to full-time moms and dads across the globe. Employees are also offered flexible work options such as the ability to work from home or a part-time schedule upon their return.
The policy is “born out of a Swedish culture that places an emphasis on a healthy work/family balance, gender equality and the ability for every parent to spend quality time with the people that matter most in their lives,” writes Spotify’s chief HR officer Katarina Berg.
The 18-year-old Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming media provider offers new parents unlimited paid leave for one year. The pioneering policy enables them to take off as much time as they want during the first 12 months following the birth or adoption of a child. They also have the choice to come back part-time, full-time or to “return and then go back out as needed.” Not bad on top of unlimited vacation time. The company went even further in early 2016 to include hourly workers in the policy as well.
Birth mothers receive a none-too-shabby 20 weeks of paid maternity leave at the eight-year-old company. Meanwhile, new fathers and adoptive parents at Twitter get 10 weeks paid time off. Further cementing its commitment to supporting families with children, the San Francisco, Calif.-based tech social media mammoth also hosts new parent and new parent-to-be roundtables on a quarterly basis. During the meetups, moms and dads ask questions about leave and swap war stories from the messy trenches of parenthood.
Related: Twitter: What Went Wrong
Google, which will soon morph into Alphabet, grants biological moms 18 weeks of fully paid and vested maternity leave. Mothers who experience complications during childbirth are given 22 weeks paid time off. Primary caregivers, regardless of gender, are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid baby-bonding leave, adoptive and surrogate caregivers included. Non-primary caregivers can carve out up to 7 paid weeks off.
On the heels of its maternal leave expansion from 12 weeks to 18 weeks in 2007, Google reported an uptick employee retention. “It just felt like the right thing to do,” a company spokesperson told The Atlantic. Additional perks for parents include priority placement at Bright Horizon child care centers across the U.S. and $500 in “baby bonding bucks.”Cool fact: Google’s first employee to go out on maternity leave is current YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. She has taken a total of five parental leaves since joining Google in 1999.
Johnson & Johnson
Perhaps best known for its baby products, Johnson & Johnson sure knows how to take care of those who take care of babies. New parents, whether by birth or adoption, who work for the 129-year-old consumer products conglomerate are privy to grocery and laundry pick-up services. Mothers get all of up to 17 weeks of paid leave and fathers nine weeks. The Brunswick, N.J.-based legacy brand’s recently expanded parental leave policy extends to parental units of all stripes -- maternal, paternal, same-sex or adoptive. Time off can be spread out over the first year following birth or adoption.
Facebook, and its hot photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram, furnishes all new mother and father employees with 17 weeks of paid leave. Additionally, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media behemoth provides a $4,000 “baby cash” stipend for each child adopted or born.
We’re curious as to how long founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will head out on leave when he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, welcome their first child, a baby girl. Zuck can divvy it up over a year or use it all at once, that is unless the head honcho is an exception to the rule. Facebook also subsidizes adoption programs, child care, and, somewhat controversially, surrogate parenting, sperm donation and egg freezing initiatives.
Per its policy published on its official website, Goldman Sachs provides new moms with 16 weeks of paid leave. That includes four weeks of parenting leave at full pay for primary caregivers. Fathers and non-primary caregivers are eligible for four weeks of paid leave. Paid surrogacy and adoption leave is also offered for up to 16 weeks. Breastfeeding new mothers at the New York City-based global financial services firm enjoy around-the-clock access to lactation consultants and are privy to use on-site lactation rooms.
Reddit, which has been struggling to clear a path following a string of controversial leadership decisions, offers new mothers and fathers 17 weeks of paid parenting leave. The San Francisco-based company allows for leave to be taken within the first year in two-week stretches at minimum. Like Zynga, HubSpot and Groupon, the troubled social-sharing platform also offers unlimited vacation time.
Bank of America
The global banking giant boasts a progressive family “life management” program, offering employees who have worked at the company for at least a year up to 12 weeks of paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave. If more time is needed, workers can take up to 14 weeks additional time off without pay.
When it comes to adoption, the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant goes above and beyond, reimbursing eligible employees up to $8,000 per legally adopted child. BofA also pays for up to 25 days of childcare center babysitting for kids ages six weeks to 12 years of age, should the primary caregiver be temporarily unavailable during work hours (as in out sick or on vacation). It also reimburses employees up to $240 a month per child for childcare costs incurred while working.
On Nov. 1, Microsoft will roll out its most expansive parental leave policy yet. Piggybacking the tech industry trend, the Redmond, Wash.-based global software colossus will lengthen its maternity and paternity leave to 12 weeks at full pay, with an additional eight weeks of paid leave for birth mothers. Leave can be taken all at once or in intervals. Birth mothers also have the option to go out on short-term disability during the two weeks leading up to their due dates.