HOW TO BRIDGE THE PARENTAL LEAVE DIVIDE
by Jennifer Paterson / March 18, 2016
When Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 31-yearold chief executive officer, told the world he was taking a two-month parental leave following the birth of his daughter last year, it signalled a turning point in the conversation about the link between strong families and business success.
The move also confirmed that what’s good for the boss is also good for the rest of the workforce, as Facebook extended its paid parental leave to four months for all full-time employees, regardless of gender.
And many other employers have seen the light: Netflix is allowing all employees to take unlimited paid leave during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption, while Microsoft has extended its paid parental leave to 12 weeks for all parents, compared to its previous eight weeks for new mothers and four weeks for new parents.
But longer leave isn’t necessarily enough. A 2014 report from the Families and Work Institute showed employer practices such as flexibility and parenting support could also make a difference to both workplace performance and family well-being. Many companies leading the way with extra leave also provide transitional support in the run-up to the leave and when employees return to work as well as support groups to facilitate discussions around any issues or challenges that could arise.
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