Netflix Setting a New Standard
Netflix recently made headlines for its revised parental leave policy. The policy states that during the year following the birth or adoption of a child, the parents (both mothers and fathers) are allowed to take off as much time as they need to while maintaining their normal salary without taking a disability leave. When the parent is ready to return, he or she may choose to return on a full -time or a part-time schedule depending on what the employee prefers.
The option for such an extended paid leave of absence for new parents is by no means the norm in the States, and sets a new precedent for tech companies at large. Additionally, the fact that this policy extends to fathers, not just mothers is unique as well. However this idea of a seemingly “unlimited” time off policy warrants some reflection as it may contain certain disadvantages.
Many tech companies (Netflix among them) are starting to offer their employees unlimited time off for paid vacation. While this is great for longer holidays, this does require a lot of planning in advance, and may at times place undue strain on those employees still in the office during such extended absences. Additionally, during these potential year-long stints of parental leave, a lot can change at the office. If employees actually choose to accept an entire year of parental leave, they will have missed internal changes at their company, as well as external ones within their industry. This gap may prove to be extremely difficult to bridge upon the return of the employee. This extended time off might leave not only the employee, but his or her co-workers at a disadvantage as well.
The threat of being unable to easily transition back into one’s position after an extended absence may discourage some from taking advantage of this new policy. With the added responsibility of a child, many new parents are even more focused on the financial security of their job, which might increase fears of being replaced if they linger in an extended leave of absence.
Additionally, in the United States and Canada, paid maternity leave is not federally mandated, which means that policies like this are subject to change and considered a privilege. Because of this, there might be stigma attached to those who make use of this new policy. Although it’s still too early to know the long-term effects of this policy change on both the employees and the company, Netflix is making headlines trying something new.