SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- Less than a week after Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he would take two months of paternity leave, the social media company announced it is extending its parental leave policy to full-time employees outside the United States.

The policy, which provides four months of paid time off, will be provided to all new parents regardless of gender or location, starting Jan. 1. Employees may take leave at any point up to a year after the birth of their child, Lori Matloff Goler, the company's head of human resources, said in a Facebook post late Wednesday.

Facebook currently offers only U.S.-based workers up to four months of paid leave.

"We want to be there for our people at all stages of life, and in particular we strive to be a leading place to work for families," she added. "An important part of this is offering paid parental or 'baby' leave."

Goler said the new policy will primarily help new fathers and employees in same-sex relationships outside the United States, noting that it will not change maternity leave already available to employees worldwide.

Zuckerberg last week said he would take two months off after his daughter's birth. Zuckerberg announced in July that his wife, Priscilla Chan, is expecting a baby girl; they have not said when the baby is due.

His announcement was seen in Silicon Valley as a strong endorsement from a top tech industry executive on the importance of family time. Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been rushing to extend parental leave allowances and other benefits to help recruit and retain employees. Many high-tech workers, however, do not take advantage of such benefits for fear of falling behind at work or missing out on promotions.