Should You Offer Unlimited Maternity Leave?

September 16, 2015 | 1,853 views

Should You Offer Unlimited Maternity Leave?

Should You Offer Unlimited Maternity Leave?

Netflix made waves in the employment world when the subscription giant announced they are now offering unlimited paid parental leave. For the first year after a child is adopted or born, a parent can take as much time as needed to be with their family. When the employee decides to come back to work, they can choose to come back part time or full time for a few months and then leave again.



This is a far cry from the traditional maternity/paternity leave policies. Is it about time?


Turns out Netflix isn’t alone in thinking American companies need to make a change. Johnson and Johnson recently rolled out a similar extended parental leave policy, giving eligible employees seven additional weeks of paid leave.


U.S. vs. The World


It turns out, the United States ranks with Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea as the only countries in the world not mandating paid maternity leave, according to an infographic by the International Labour Organization. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 only offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave.


The choice is up to the business.


With the majority of the world offering on average 100 days of mandated maternity leave, what should American companies do? Opt for the Netflix approach? Or stick with the traditionally offered twelve weeks of unpaid leave?


Benefits of Extended Paid Leave


Although it seems costly (and it is) to offer long-term paid leave to employees after a new child is welcomed into the family, there are a few benefits.


You could get extra exposure for your brand in the same way Netflix and Johnson & Johnson did. This goes a long way among people who value businesses that value employees with this type of leave.


You could also attract better employees. Instead of seeing significant turnover, you could attract the best talent on the market, making your company more efficiently over the long-run.


Risks of Extended Paid Leave


The risks are a little more tangible.


Offering such a big benefit to employees can feel costly. In addition to paying the person who is out on paid parental leave, you’ll also have to pay someone to fill their shoes. This double salary for the same amount of work can add up quickly for small businesses with already tight budgets.


What’s Right for Your Company?


There are certainly upsides to both traditional maternity leave and extended options. Every company has a different customer culture. Weigh the benefits and risks to determine what’s best for your business. There’s no right or wrong answer.


Author Profile

Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.

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