Amazon plans to implement a progressive parental leave policy, beginning Jan. 1, the Seattle Times reported Monday. Under the new policy, some birth mothers will be able to take up to 20 weeks of maternity leave, and all new parents, regardless of gender, will be offered six weeks of parental leave.
The new policy marks the first time that Amazon has offered paid paternity leave, which has been a growing trend among tech companies in recent years. Earlier this year, Netflix announced an "unlimited leave" for new moms and dads, allowing them to take off as much time as they would like within the first year of giving birth or adopting. The following day, Microsoft announced it will be boosting paid leave for new parents as well.
Under its previous policy, Amazon had offered birth mothers up to four weeks of paid maternity leave before giving birth if a doctor found it to be medically necessary. The company also offered birth mothers 10 weeks of paid maternity leave after giving birth. With the additional six weeks offered to all new parents under the new policy, some birth mothers will be eligible for 20 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Amazon also announced a new “leave share program,” which allows employees to gift all or part of the six-week leave they are offered to their spouse or partner who might not have paid paternal leave. So, an Amazon employee can go back to work, while his or her partner gets paid by Amazon to stay at home with their new child.
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) November 2, 2015
”Leave Share is a novel program and we hope it helps provide you and your family with additional flexibility during this special time,” Amazon wrote in a message to employees obtained by Jezebel.
Another new benefit Amazon introduced is the “ramp back program,” aimed at easing birth mothers and primary care givers back into work by offering eight weeks of flexible time when they are returning to their jobs. The expanded benefits are scheduled to begin Jan. 1 and will apply to babies born or adopted since Oct. 1 and will apply to full-time employees, which includes more than 100,000 people in customer service and the Internet retailer's distribution centers.
The expanded benefits come in the wake of a scathing New York Times investigation that blasted the company for its poor work culture. Amazon has since fired back at the Times, accusing the publication of omitting information.