Netflix and Microsoft Just Transformed Maternity Benefits

Why other companies should follow their lead.


If this woman worked at Netflix, she’d have a lot less to worry about. (antoniodiaz/Shutterstock)

You may have noticed last week that Netflix and Microsoft made big changes to their maternity benefits.

Netflix instituted an unlimited leave policy for new parents during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption. Employees still get their normal pay and can work part-time, full-time, and basically come-and-go as they wish.

“We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances,” said Tawni Cranz is Netflix’s chief talent officer in a blog post announcing the new policy.

Meanwhile, Microsoft extended its parental leave from eight weeks of paid time off to 12. Mothers also get eight weeks of fully paid maternity disability leave— meaning they really get 20 weeks off. Plus the leave is flexible, meaning they don’t have to take it all at once.

It’s nice that the federal government requires employers to give new moms and dads 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act, but many families can’t afford to lose a paycheck. (Plus, smaller companies aren’t required to do it.)

Will the actions of Microsoft and Netflix lead to companies offering more and more progressive parental benefits? The tech world gave us open offices, hackathons, and brought beer back to the company fridge — so why couldn’t the industry lead the way on maternity and paternity leave?

Companies that offer more competitive benefits in this space are sure to attract and retain more talented employees. Everyone seems intent on hiring smart, engaged millennials. Well, young people have a way of growing up and starting families — so parental benefits will get increasingly more important for companies as their employees increasingly demand them.

Are there any companies in the Philadelphia area offering progressive maternity benefits? If so, let me know in the comments or send me an email. It could be just the thing to get a company nominated for Philadelphia magazine’s 2015 Coolest Companies list, which will be revealed in a November cover story.