Corporate giant Amazon unveiled an updated parental paid leave policy Monday, extending benefits to over 200,000 employees.
According to the company’s revised policy, full-time workers who have been with the company at least one year will receive six weeks of paid parental leave, regardless of gender or whether they are birth or adoptive parents. That means birth mothers—who get 10 weeks of maternity leave—can now enjoy up to 20 weeks of paid maternity leave including a possible four weeks fully paid prior to the baby’s birth (if a doctor recommends it).
Helping employees transition smoothly from leave back to work life, Amazon is also offering primary caregivers the option to work part-time for up to eight weeks following their baby’s arrival.
The company’s new perks even extend beyond their own employees. With their innovative “leave-share” program, Amazon will offer its employees the opportunity to “share” a portion of their six-week paid leave with their partner whose own employer may not offer such benefits. That means a non-Amazon employee could get paid by Amazon to take parental leave.
Amazon joins a growing list of business leaders updating their parental leave policies. In August, Netflix announced unlimited, paid parental leave for one year for salaried employees in its streaming division (it did not extend the offer to those in the DVD-by-mail division). Shortly thereafter, Microsoft promised its employees 12 weeks paid leave for all parents on top of eight weeks of maternity disability leave for birth mothers. Meanwhile, Facebook offers its employees four full months of paid parental leave.
Though the positive impact of improved parental paid leave policies in states like California and New Jersey is undeniable, the United States remains the only developed country to not guarantee employees paid parental leave under federal law. Today, only 12 percent of America’s private-sector workers have access to paid family leave, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
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Kitty Lindsay is a Ms. blogger and works at the Feminist Majority Foundation. Follow her on Twitter!