Many technology companies are currently racing to offer better policies for parental leave in an effort to retain their employees. One such company, Adobe Systems, recently announced that it is offering new mothers 26 weeks of paid time off through a combination of medical and parental leave. Previously, it only offered nine weeks of maternity leave.
Adobe is also offering other improved leave benefits, including 10 weeks of medical leave for surgery, a medical emergency, or childbirth. The company will also offer 16 weeks of paternal leave to any primary caregiver who becomes a parent through childbirth, surrogacy, adoption, or foster care. If a father is not the primary caregiver, he will have access to four weeks of paid parental leave, up from two weeks.
This change in Adobe’s policy may be in response to Netflix’s groundbreaking parental leave policy, which was announced earlier this summer. Netflix will offer new parents unlimited time off in the year after the birth or adoption of a child. Microsoft later announced that it was upping its time off to 20 weeks for new mothers.
The primary reason tech companies are improving their leave policies is in an effort to retain their employees, particularly women. New parents are often at a loss when it comes to taking medical or parental leave in the absence of structured company policies, settling on taking only the “average” amount of time off.
Adobe has based its leave policies on looking to patterns and records of how employees have taken leave in the past,. New mothers at Adobe would frequently attempt to take five or six months if possible, combining their nine weeks of maternity leave, paid time off, the company’s two sabbatical weeks, and in some cases an additional sabbatical, in order to take a total of six months off. Adobe decided that rather than forcing parents to struggle to piece together the time off they need, they would offer it to them as a benefit. A spokesperson from Adobe estimated that 98% of the company’s U.S. employees would qualify for this benefit.
Adobe’s announcement about an enhanced parental leave policy comes on the heels of the company eliminating its traditional performance review. The company agreed that the performance evaluations were unnecessary and that both managers and employees dreaded them. Instead, performance evaluations were replaced with frequent “check ins” with supervisors to evaluate how an employee was progressing. The company also eliminated a policy that required managers to fire their least productive team members, which caused so much stress among staff that many of the best employees were being driven to work for competitors.
The recent surge in more attractive leave policies among tech companies is a sign of progress, recognizing that many new parents want and need more than a few weeks off after the birth of a child. Currently, federal law requires that most employers offer certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of a child under the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, smaller companies are not subject to this law at all, leaving many parents without many options. Additionally, many employers fail to provide their employees with the minimum amount of legally required leave time. Far too often, pregnant employees are terminated for a false, pretextual reason so that the company will not have to accommodate the employee with time off, or change their job duties to accommodate the pregnancy.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that any employer who fails to follow the law in offering pregnant employees time off should be held responsible. If you believe that your employer has violated your legal rights related to your pregnancy, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland pregnancy discrimination attorney at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area, and will be happy to provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call today.