The United States is one of the very few countries in the world that does not have a federal law requiring paid maternity leave, leaving it up to individual businesses to decide whether or not they’ll provide time off for new mothers that is compensated. It is perhaps due to this fact that the number of women who take a leave of absence from work after having a child has remained unchanged for the past 22 years, when a law requiring employers to provide unpaid leave was passed. Research shows that taking maternity leave is important to the health of both new mothers and babies, making it clearer than ever that something needs to change with the way parental leave is handled in general.
At the moment, the organizations making the biggest difference are companies themselves. Certain American businesses have recognized the need for paid time off for new parents, often regardless of gender, and have changed their benefits packages accordingly. While there is still a lot to be done when it comes to improving parental leave offerings in the U.S., these are the companies that are doing something right. Here’s to hoping that others will follow their lead.
1. Netflix (Benefits Rating: 4.2)
The TV and movie streaming giant is currently the leader in parental leave benefits and was one of the first companies to announce a new and improved plan for their employees. Their policy, which was introduced in August 2015, allows full-time workers to receive up to a full year of paid time off when they become parents. The policy applies to both new mothers and fathers, and employees can take time off, return to work, and then take more time off within that year if needed. Regardless of how much time they take, they’re paid their full salary. Pretty amazing, right?
2. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Benefits Rating: 4.9)
Announced just a few months after Netflix’s revolutionary policy, the charitable organization’s parental leave policy is very similar and offers new parents up to 52 weeks of paid leave during the first year after their child’s birth. "This will enable parents to participate more fully in their children’s lives, while also allowing them the flexibility and financial certainty to meet the needs of their growing families," said Steven Rice, the foundation's chief human resources officer. "Ultimately, our parental leave program is focused on healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.”
3. Etsy (Benefits Rating: 4.4)
In March 2016, the company introduced 26-week paid parental leave benefit, which includes biological, adoptive, and surrogate parents of both genders. What sets this policy apart is its inclusivity to all types of parents, which is something not all of these companies offer. The time can be taken over the two years following the birth or adoption of a child, although the first 8 weeks must be taken consecutively following the birth or adoption. "We also provide a stipend for assistance with the costs of adoption or surrogacy. All of our offices have well-appointed Parents Rooms. These rooms are primarily used for nursing mothers, but are gender neutral when not in use for pumping," says Etsy HR.
4. Spotify (Benefits Rating: 4.5)
This music streaming company was started in Sweden, a country that has one of the best parental leave policies in the world, with 480 days available to all parents. Because of this, Spotify wanted to provide a full 24 weeks of paid leave for both moms and dads, which can be taken over a period of three years. One employee raved adding, "6 months 100% paid and 1 month that you can transition back to your job by working from home or working part-time."
5. American Express (Benefits Rating: 4.0)
In December 2016, Amex upped their offering to 20 weeks for all new parents, including full-time and part-time employees, which is incredibly rare. Plus, expectant parents will have access to a parent concierge, whom they can go to for information on the company’s family benefits and resources. And employees who wish to have a child will receive up to $35,000 for adoption or surrogacy for up to two children. Those undergoing infertility treatments, meanwhile, will receive up to a lifetime maximum of $35,000 to help defray costs.
6. Amazon (Benefits Rating: 3.7)
After being heavily criticized by employees for how they treated women returning from maternity leave, Amazon decided to revamp its policy. Not only did they increase their benefit to 20 weeks of paid leave, but they now offer parents the option of splitting up some of that time with their spouse. For example, if an Amazon employee’s spouse did not get any paid leave at their company, they could take up to six weeks on Amazon’s dime.
7. Twitter (Benefits Rating: 4.3)
Twitter also offers 20 weeks of paid leave to both moms and dads, regardless of whether they had the child by birth or adoption. "The goal of this change was to expand how we think about parental leave," said Jeffrey Siminoff, Twitter's VP of inclusion and diversity. "Primary caregiving is something that's hard to define. We want to lead by example and by doing so we can influence the decisions of others."
8. Adobe (Benefits Rating: 4.6)
At Adobe, birth mothers receive up to 26 weeks of paid leave if they are the primary caregiver, and all other parents get 16 weeks of paid leave. "Our employees are our intellectual property and our future," said Donna Morris, senior vice president People & Places, Adobe. "The investment is unquestionably worth it."
9. Facebook (Benefits Rating: 4.7)
If you’re starting to notice a theme here, it’s because all the biggest tech companies in the U.S. have adopted more generous policies. Facebook provides four months of paid parental leave, regardless of gender or country of residence. This year, COO Sheryl Sandberg announced Facebook employees will have up to 20 days paid leave to grieve an immediate family member, up to 10 days to grieve an extended family member, and will be able to take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a sick relative.
10. Microsoft (Benefits Rating: 4.4)
Birth mothers get 20 weeks of paid leave, while all other parents (fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents) get 12 weeks of compensated time to adjust to their new family life. One employee says, "Microsoft takes pride in employees and family living. Thank you!!!" And another adds, "Most importantly, people do take 5 months off or longer. So you are not pressured or expected to come back earlier."
11. Google (Benefits Rating: 4.6)
When the tech company increased their parental leave from 12 to 18 weeks several years ago, they saw a 50% decline in new mothers quitting their jobs. If you need proof that maternity leave is important, there you have it. A new Google dad shared, "Fantastic benefit - I took paternity leave and am grateful for that opportunity to spend that time with my child; the company also provides a care package for new parents which was also much appreciated."
12. Ikea (Benefits Rating: 4.4)
The Swedish furniture giant changed their U.S. policy late last year to offer its 13,000 salaried and hourly employees in the U.S. up to four months of paid parental leave. Furthermore, Ikea’s policy change is a part of its initiative to foster better relations with employees. Over the past two years, Ikea has reportedly increased pay consistently and has brought the average minimum hourly wage to $11.87.
Editor's Note: The companies and jobs highlighted in this article are curated by the editorial staff, listed in no particular order, and do not necessarily reflect the official methodology of Glassdoor’s official awards or honors. Benefits have also been verified by cross-referencing third party sources, such as an employer’s official site. Each company’s Benefits Rating (based on a 5-point scale) is based on at least 10 maternity & paternity leave reviews shared on Glassdoor by employees as of 3/7/17. For more details about how companies and specific roles are considered for editorial coverage, please visit Glassdoor for Employers.