Are You Here For It? Netflix Offers Unlimited Parental Leave

August 5, 2015  |  

In a move similar to ones other tech companies are making to support their working mothers, Netflix recently announced both new mothers and fathers will have the option of unlimited leave for up to one year after having a baby. Just last week, IBM began offering new moms a delivery breast milk service in hopes of supporting women in their workforce and it looks like Netflix is giving them a bit of competition with their new parental leave program.

On Tuesday, chief talent officer Tawni Cranz said employees will receive normal pay “without the headache of switching to state or disability pay” and have the option to return to work part-time or full-time whenever most convenient for the new parents.

“Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home,” said Cranz.

Netflix’s move also brings on the hope of appealing to the best candidates in the workforce, as it noted its success relies on “competing for and keeping the most talented individuals.”

The popular $48 billion video-streaming service can afford to make such moves as it’s seen revenue grow by 23 percent in the first half of the year. Netflik is committed to “freedom and responsibility” in the workplace and also offers all of its employees unlimited vacation time.

“We don’t measure people by how many hours they work or how much they are in the office,” one of the company’s culture deck slide reads. “We do care about accomplishing great work.”

Netflix’s new maternity program could be an important precedent-setting move more companies consider taking as the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t promise paid maternal leave. But could this new unlimited first year off have a damaging affect on other employees who are left to pick up the extra workload?

While I agree the U.S. is decades behind, and all companies should offer paid maternal leave, I wonder what effect such flexibility will have on the workforce. New studies show that unlimited time off often has the opposite effect, as workers take less time off than in well-defined programs and feel guilty if they take too much time, never knowing what is really reasonable.

Will mothers who take six months off be looked down upon when another new mom only takes two months? Every family is different and deals with varying situations after childbirth so unlimited leave creates flexibility for these situations, but will parents also feel guilty for not being back to work as quickly as their peers?  Personally, I love the concept but we will have to wait and see how it works in action.

Should more companies offer unlimited maternal leave or could this bring resentment from other employees?


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