Netflix's year-long parental leave raises bar for U.S. employers

Wed Aug 5, 2015 6:24pm EDT
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By Kylie Gumpert

(Reuters) - Netflix Inc is offering up to a year of paid maternity and paternity leave for employees to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, significantly raising the bar for parental benefits in corporate America.

In a blog post, the video streaming company, which employs about 2,200 people, said parents could take off as much time as they wanted during the first year after a child's birth or adoption.

Parents can return to work part-time, full-time or go back to work as needed, the company said.

The change, which the company called an "unlimited" leave, will eliminate the need for employees to request state-funded leave or disability pay because they will continue to be paid their regular salaries.

“Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field,” Netflix Chief Talent Officer Tawni Cranz said in the post. “Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home.”

The Netflix policy far exceeds typical leave at large U.S. corporations. The national norm averages about 30 days paid leave, according to Mary Tavarozzi, a senior consultant with benefit consultant group Towers Watson.

While it could push some companies to follow in its footsteps, for others it will not be possible. Top tech firms are among the leaders in offering greater benefits to attract new talent. Facebook offers four months of paid leave for parents, while Google Inc offers at least 18 weeks of paid maternity leave.

"We've seen many employers expanding their amount of paid leave available, but it would be a small number of industries with a relatively small-to-medium size population that could afford to do something as extensive as Netflix," said Tavarozzi.   Continued...

The Netflix logo is shown in this illustration photograph in Encinitas, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake