It’s no secret that the United States is lagging behind other countries when it comes to paid time off for new parents. In fact, the U.S. is one of only three countries surveyed by the United Nations that doesn’t guarantee paid leave for mothers—Oman and Papua New Guinea are the other two countries. Moreover, only 12 percent of workers in the U.S. receive paid family leave. Netflix, however, has decided it’s time to change the status quo.
The wildly popular video streaming company announced on Tuesday that they will offer unlimited, paid maternity and paternity leave to all employees for one year after the birth or adoption of a child. The policy will allow employees to take off a full year with pay, work part-time hours, or even take off additional time if needed after returning to work full-time.
“We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances,” Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer Tawni Cranz wrote in the company’s official blog. “Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home. This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”
Netflix isn’t the first company to offer generous parental leave—Google offers five months of paid leave to new moms and Facebook offers both mothers and fathers four months—but no one else is giving unlimited leave. And, many companies offer unequal time to women and men which inadvertently stimulates gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace.
While this is a progressive move on Netflix’s part, there is criticism that the policy is too vague. “In an ideal world, new parents would decide how many days to take off in the vacuum of their own personal lives, but it’s silly to assume that such a safe space exists,” Claire Zillman wrote in an article for Fortune. “It’s tainted by concerns about missing too many meetings, returning to too many unanswered emails, and it prompts comparisons to other new parents who missed fewer days following their child’s birth.”
Will Netflix employees take advantage of this progressive policy? Will other companies follow Netflix’s example? Will traditional working models begin to change? Only time will tell. But for now, we think that this policy is a huge step in the right direction—not to mention a great recruiting tool for Netflix!