The New Stuff

Facebook expands parental leave policy for all employees globally

Facebook gave its employees around the world something extra to be thankful for just in time for the holidays.

The social networking giant announced this week that it is extending its policy of offering four months paid leave to new parents to all of its employees globally, rather than just new parents in the United States.

"This expanded benefit primarily affects new fathers and people in same-sex relationships outside the U.S.," Lori Matloff Goler, Facebook's head of human resources, wrote in a Facebook post announcing the change.

"In reviewing our parental leave policies, we have decided to make this change because it's the right thing to do for our people and their families."

I am proud to announce today that we are extending our parental leave policy for full time employees to cover four...

Posted by Lori Matloff Goler on Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Facebook had nearly 12,000 employees in total at the end of the third quarter. Several thousand are based in and around Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, but many others are scattered in far flung locations from Dublin to Delhi to Dubai, each with different and in some cases worse standards for parental leave.

In Dublin, for example, where Facebook has "almost 1,000" employees, paternity leave has long lagged other European countries. Ireland just moved this month to provide two weeks paid leave to new fathers, a step forward but far behind what Facebook would provide its male employees in the country.

In India, where Facebook has hundreds of employees and continues to grow with its user base there, new mothers in the country are currently entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave — though there are proposals to more than double that. The standard for new fathers at businesses is up to 15 days.

The announcement comes just days after Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder and CEO of Facebook, disclosed he would be taking two months of paternity leave after the birth of his first child.

"This is a very personal decision, and I've decided to take 2 months of paternity leave when our daughter arrives," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post earlier this month.

While it may be personal, it nonetheless set off a very public and positive reaction.

"It's hard to overstate what a big deal this is," the Chicago Tribune declared after his announcement. "In making this choice so publicly, he's also done a major solid for the men (and women, and children) of America. That's because he's helping to finally destigmatize paternity leave."

By expanding its paid parental leave for all employees now, Facebook may continue to build on that positive narrative and further distinguish itself at a time when the largest technology companies in the world are in an arms race over employee perks.

Microsoft, Apple, Spotify, Netflix and Adobe have all ramped up perks for new parents in recent months, in a clear effort to appear progress and remain competitive in recruiting and retaining top talent in a very competitive market.

The key perks of Silicon Valley startups were once all about free food and partying. Now as Facebook, in its second decade of existence, and others mature, their employee perks must mature too.

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