Amazon is the latest tech company to expand its parental leave policy. While the move follows in the footsteps of other firms competing for skilled, sought-after workers, the New York Times story that took Amazon to task for what the paper alleges to be a toxic work culture puts this announcement in a slightly different light.
According to the Seattle Times, Amazon (amzn) is now offering up to to 20 weeks of paid leave for new birth mothers. The changes will also give all new parents who have worked at the company for at least a year six weeks of paid time off. The publication notes that this is the first time Amazon has offered paid leave to new dads. The policy goes into effect Jan. 1.
The Seattle retail giant joins other leading tech companies like Netflix, Microsoft and Adobe in expanding its paid parental leave policy. While only 12% of American private sector workers have access to some type of paid family leave, according to the Department of Labor, companies with deep pockets and a strong demand for skilled workers are increasingly sweetening their leave benefits.
Unlike Netflix, which got slammed for failing to extend its generous leave policies to the workers in its lower-skill DVD business, the Seattle Times reports that Amazon's new benefits will apply to all full-time employees, including those who work at the company's distribution centers.
The announcement takes on a special resonance in light of the August New York Times investigation that claimed Amazon has a punishing work culture that can be particularly hard on parents. The story alleged that "motherhood can...be a liability" at the company and included anecdotes from workers who were told that raising children could hurt their chances for success.
Amazon has strongly disputed many of the charges leveled by the Times, and in October, Amazon SVP for global corporate affairs Jay Carney wrote a Medium piece attempting to discredit aspects of the story.
Did the story have anything to do with the new policy? Amazon told the Seattle Times that it reviews benefits annually and began the process early this year. Be that as it may, there's no doubt the extended leave will make the lives of Amazonian moms and dads just a bit easier.
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