Friday, August 7, 2015
The internet has been abuzz this week with news that Netflix will now offer of "unlimited" maternity and paternity leave to its employees.
I place "unlimited" in scare quotes because, while Netflix uses that word, the announcement makes clear that the leave is unlimited....during the first year after a child's birth or adoption.
Nonetheless, one year of paid maternity/paternity leave is extremely generous by U.S. company standards.
Amid the praise, there has been a fair bit of skepticism.
- Why Netflix's And Microsoft's New Parental Leave Policies Fall Short Of What Parents Need (Forbes)
- Netflix's New Parental Leave Policy Could Make Things Worse for Women (Time)
- Why Netflix’s ‘unlimited’ maternity leave policy won’t work (MarketWatch)
- Why Netflix’s unlimited parental leave is probably a bad idea for your company (Washington Post)
- Not All Netflix Workers Will Get 'Unlimited' Parental Leave (HuffPost Business)
No good deed goes unpunished? As far as I could tell, the criticism boils down to the following:
- Netflix (and other companies) may not be able to afford this massive benefit
- The policy does not cover all Netflix employees
- The policy may lead to jealousy and strained working relationships
- Parents will have a hard time separating from their children after one year
- Employees might actually take less time off, as seen with some of the unlimited vacation policies
The skepticism following Netflix's announcement reminds me of the somewhat surprising blowback from Gravity Payment's decision to raise its minimum salary to $70,000. More details on the Gravity Payment's situation are nicely detailed by our friend Christine Hurt (BYU Law) at The Conglomerate. Decisions by both companies appear to warrant business judgment rule protection, even if they turn out badly.
While the reactions have been mixed, Netflix has definitely been getting a lot of publicity. Perhaps the publicity will breathe new life into efforts to have the U.S. join the rest of the industrialize world in requiring paid maternity/paternity leave.
In any event, it will be interesting to see how Netflix's policy plays out. To date, the stock market seems to be supporting the announcement (or at least fairly neutral on the announcement). If support continues, perhaps we will see this type of policy spread organically.