Netflix is offering staff 'unlimited' parental leave

It's an eye-catching policy - and a welcome one for Americans.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 03 Mar 2016

Parents working for Netflix in the US and Canada rejoice – the streaming site is offering ‘unlimited’ parental leave (for the first year after a child’s birth or adoption anyway).

Both mums and dads working at the Silicon Valley company will be paid their full salary during that year. They can choose to come back to work part-time or full-time, and stop and start as they please. Currently, the US has just 12 weeks of statutory maternity leave – and it’s unpaid. Canada’s is closer to the UK’s, but parents still don’t get it as good (although the UK isn't exactly a utopia when it comes to pregnancy).

‘We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances,’ Netflix’s chief talent officer Tawni Cranz said in a blogpost.

 Of course it’s not an entirely altruistic policy - and Cranz admitted as such. ‘Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field,’ she said.

The announcement also follows the company, which is challenging established media giants with hit shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, giving staff unlimited holiday. It’s an increasingly fashionable Silicon Valley benefit, offered by companies such as Reddit and Uber and also aped by Richard Branson in the UK (who also recently announced a very generous parental leave policy). But it’s one that’s been criticised as potentially leading to under-pressure employees taking less holiday.

Generous, equal parental leave does seem like an all-round sensible idea. It’s good for women and likely to lead to happier, harder-working, more loyal staff. But, as with unlimited holiday, it only works if parents actually take up the offer. And while it’s nice to think other companies will up their game and follow Netflix’s example, without the stick of the state American parents will only be so lucky if they work in the competitive hothouse that is Silicon Valley.

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