According to reports, Netflix recently adopted a policy that will allow employees to take unlimited paid parental leave within the first year after a child is born or adopted.  The new policy is part of a broader trend among employers to attract and retain talent by offering generous parental leave benefits.  Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer explained the new policy by stating that “Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field.”
Other companies, particularly in the tech field, also offer parental leave benefits that exceed the requirements of federal or state law.  For example, Facebook allows new parents to take up to four months off, and Apple allows mothers to take up to 14 weeks off and their partners to take up to 6 weeks off.
The primary benefit of these policies is that they help employers recruit and retain employees, particularly women – which has been difficult for some tech employers to achieve.  After Google increased its parental leave from 12 weeks to 18 weeks, the company reported that mothers were leaving the company at half the rate they did previously.
On the other hand, the downsides include increased costs for the employer and a potential decrease in productivity.  When employees take paid leave, the employer must either hire a temporary replacement or re-allocate the employee’s work responsibilities to others, increasing those other employees’ workloads.  Given these concerns, not all employers may be able or willing to offer parental leave benefits as generous as the new Netflix policy.
Takeaway:  Offering generous parental leave benefits is one method of recruiting and retaining employees, but whether it is right for a particular company depends on a variety of factors.