The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t offer a national policy of paid family leave for working women and men who have had a baby or adopted. While the U.S. government has yet to step up, some corporations, including Netflix, are trying to make things a bit better for new parents.
For your next business research paper, consider discussing the new policy Netflix is offering, whether or not it will lead to more companies creating this policy or the importance of paid family leave.
Netflix announces new policy
Initially the announcement from Netflix that it was offering new parents a year of unlimited paid family leave was greeted as a step in the right direction. But then the questions started. Sam Sanders posted “Netflix Still Facing Questions Over Its New Parental Leave Policy” for The Two-Way blog on npr.com on August 10, 2015, with more about the details of the new policy.
Beyond the questions of whether or not employees would feel that they could take that time without jeopardizing their careers or being pressured to return, was another issue—why doesn’t the new paid family leave policy apply to all Netflix employees? Sanders wrote, “the policy only applies to ‘salaried streaming employees,’ and doesn’t cover workers in the company’s DVD distribution centers, where the work is usually lower-paid and more physically demanding.” So who is left out? According to NPR anywhere from an estimated 400 to 500 Netflix employees may not be eligible for the new paid family leave policy.
But any step forward for working women (and their spouses) trying to raise a family is good news, right? According to “Hold the applause for Netflix: parental leave policy a tiny step not a giant leap” by Suzanne McGee for The Guardian on August 9, 2015, the idea of paid family leave in the U.S. is currently suffering from a one step forward, two steps backward effect.
While it is great that Netflix and subsequent Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are offering families with new children more of the perks other workers in every other developed nation enjoy, tech corporations are not exactly crammed with women. McGee wrote, “Elsewhere in corporate America, no such pressure exists for CEOs to lavish big perks—including big parental leave benefits—on grateful employees.” What’s more, the employees that are eligible for the paid family leave may not even take it for fear of being viewed as a slacker by their superiors and coworkers.
Why paid family leave is important
For those without children, the whole issue of paid family leave for working women and men may illicit no more than a shrug. What’s the big deal that the U.S. is the only developed nation not to offer this benefit? Claire Cain Miller explored the ramifications for families in “The Benefits of Paid Leave for Parents” for The International New York Times on February 2, 2015.
Cain Miller wrote, “Economists have found that paid leave raises the probability that mothers return to employment later, and then work more hours and earn higher wages.” What’s more, economists haven’t found that paid family leave hurts business (although no evidence suggests it helps them either). President Obama is trying to push the U.S. toward a policy like every other developed nation offers; he gave federal employees the right to six weeks of paid leave with each new child in January 2015.
While the new Netflix paid family leave policy definitely still has some kinks that need to be worked out, it does appear to be a step in the right direction, one that working women and men across the U.S. can only hope becomes national policy sooner rather than later.
Is it a good or bad thing that the U.S. is the only developed nation not to offer paid family leave? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.