Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer: You Can’t Work From Home But You Can Spend More Time There With Your Baby

May 1, 2013  |  

Just two months after setting off fierce debate about the merits of telecommuting, Yahoo has announced a slate of new perks and benefits for its staffers. On the top of the list is extended maternity and paternity leave. All parents, including fathers now have eight weeks; new moms have 16 weeks.

In addition, parents will receive $500 for necessities, there are gifts for new pet owners, and eight weeks of unpaid leave for employees who make it to five years with the company. This all sounds pretty good, but actually, Yahoo is playing catch up with the rest of Silicon Valley. According to CNN, Google, the company Mayer used to work for, offers all parents seven weeks of paid leave, and between 18 and 22 weeks of maternity leave for mothers. And Facebook offers four months for both parents and $4,000 of “baby cash.”

Mayer herself went back to work two weeks after giving birth to her son on September 30, which everyone commented on (even though it’s none of their business). All of her decisions are watched closely for a variety of reasons: because she’s a woman CEO, because Yahoo was once a major player in the tech space and it’s trying to regain prominence, and because of the attention now being paid to women “leaning in” and “having it all.” Keep in mind, Mayer was pregnant when she accepted the CEO position, so there’s a good chance she felt she had to go back to work as quickly as possibly because she was new to the job.

On the business side, the company’s stock is up 24 percent since the beginning of the year. Mayer herself is being paid $36.6 million in cash and stock for her work.

Research conducted by Kenneth Matos at the Family and Work Institute shows just how far outside the norm these new Yahoo perks are. “Matos’s research shows that only 30 percent of U.S. employers offer paid or unpaid maternity leave that is greater than 12 weeks,” Today’s website says about the data. “Matos also said that 58 percent of employers who provide maternity leave pay new moms for at least some of that time off. Only 14 percent of employers who provide paternity leave pay for some of the dads’ time off.”

Many companies and most states in the US don’t offer very much in the way of paid maternity leave, a rare thing among developed countries. The Today site proposes that the Yahoo changes could spark other developments in this area.

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