In an internal email this past Monday, Amazon announced a new parental leave plan that provides paid paternity leave and extends paid maternity leave, to take effect on January 1st. Markedly, in addition to extending paid maternity leave to up to 20 weeks for birth mothers, the revamped policy adds six weeks of paid time-off for new parents – who have worked for the company for at least a year – regardless of gender, allowing new fathers paid time-off following the birth or adoption of a child for the first time in the e-commerce superpower’s 21-year-long history.
Following similar policy updates from Yahoo, Netflix, Microsoft, and Adobe, Amazon’s new plan brings the Seattle-based e-commerce giant up to speed with a growing group of tech companies that are working to improve family leave for their employees.
In reality, we have a very long way to go in securing the rights for working parents – the US is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave, with the UK guaranteeing 39 weeks paid maternal leave, Australia 18 weeks, and Mexico 12. Moreover, Amazon’s new plan is restricted to full-time employees and does not apply to contract or temporary workers, which are becoming far more prevalent in today’s on-demand economy. Additionally, one should keep in mind that just because a policy is adopted, that does not necessarily mean workers will have easy, unfettered, and encouraged access to it.
All of that said, the emerging trend is nonetheless an encouraging move toward workplace equality for both new mothers and fathers and is indicative of the longstanding demand for advancements in the rights of working families and ultimately a better work-life balance.