Many parents consider parental leave to be a valuable time of bonding between the parents and a new addition to the family. Whether the addition comes through birth or adoption, whether the parent is the mother or the father, being able to take that vital time to bond, rest, and learn the new family dynamic is critical to the development of the family unit–not to mention highly beneficial to the parent who is allowed to take that leave.

How Silicon Valley is Different

In recent years, Silicon Valley has shot to the top of the parental leave charts as it reevaluates the need for family life. This intense, highly competitive industry has made sweeping changes to parental leave policies, offering more paid leave time for new families and making family time a priority. Consider:

  • Facebook is offering employees four months paid time off following the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Amazon’s policy provides four weeks off before delivery, ten weeks off after delivery, and an additional six weeks for employees who have been with the company for at least a year.
  • Etsy, one of the latest tech companies to fall into the new pattern, is offering a staggering 26 weeks for new parents: eight weeks immediately following the birth of the child, with the additional time being spread across the next two years at the parent’s discretion.
  • Microsoft provides their employees with two weeks of short-term disability if they so desire, 8 weeks of paid leave following the birth of a child, and up to 12 additional weeks of paid leave for both moms and dads following the addition of a new member of the family.
  • Netflix is offering “unlimited” parental leave during the baby’s first year.

These sweeping policies are becoming more and more common across Silicon Valley and other tech giants. Increasingly, America is fighting for parental rights and the understanding that being part of a family doesn’t necessarily mean being less invested in work–and Silicon Valley is leading the charge to see it through.

The Benefits of Extended Parental Leave

Tech giants aren’t just trying to retain the best and brightest talent in their companies. They’re also experiencing the benefits of extended parental leave for both employer and employee, including:

  • It staves off postpartum depression in new moms, which can cause them to have more trouble functioning normally in the workplace for months following the birth of a child.
  • It raises the odds that moms will return to the workplace following the birth of a child, rather than dropping out of the workforce entirely. This prevents the need to train new permanent employees as well as creating greater employee loyalty.
  • Women who are able to take paid leave work 15 to 20% more hours during the second year of their child’s life.
  • Fathers who take leave time to spend with their young children are more likely to develop the skills they need to care equally for those children.
  • Individuals who are given appropriate parental leave are more likely to remain loyal to the company.
  • Breastfeeding rates increase when mom can stay home with the child instead of having to pump at work, leading to healthier babies.

What Does This Mean for Higher Education?

While not every institution can afford to absorb the impact of long-term parental leave for all of its employees, shifting policies to adapt to the needs of parents can have significant impact on both employees and employers. The United States remains one of only two nations across the world that does not offer guaranteed time off for new mothers, and all too many colleges fall into the category of “too little time.”

When new moms are desperate to spend time with their babies, they’re unable to focus on their work tasks. New dads, worried about what’s going on at home, may struggle to shift their minds to work when they’re there. By updating parental leave policies, however, it’s possible to create dedicated, hardworking employees who are giving their best to the college whenever they’re there. Whether that’s a professor who doesn’t cut her office hours short to rush home because she feels confident in her bond with her child, or a janitor who takes the time to finish cleaning an area because he’s had adequate time with his child, it’s clear that new parental leave policies can make a significant difference for every employee.

Want to learn more about the needs of employees across higher education? Contact us today.

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