Adobe recently announced that beginning in November, new mothers will be eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks paid medical and parental leave (“maternity leave”), and fathers will be eligible for 16 weeks of paid parental leave. This follows the current trend in the technology industry in which corporations have been increasing paid maternity leave, offering and increasing paternal leave and adding other benefits for new parents.
In a New York Times article regarding Adobe’s paid leave decision, senior vice president Donna Morris stated, “We join an industry movement to better support our employees while striving towards increased work force diversity.” Just days prior to Adobe’s announcement, Netflix also announced it will increase its paid parental leave and begin offering up to one year of unlimited time off. Other companies have instituted programs to better help its employees by offering new mothers solutions for shipping breastmilk home while traveling for work or options for freezing their eggs to manage and plan for future parenthood.
Currently, while there are federal minimums for unpaid parental leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), there are no federal minimums for paid parental leave, so companies have had to weigh both tangible and intangible costs and benefits of certain time frames for such leave if it is to be offered at all. In addition to those considerations, a company must handle all parental leave decisions with care and scrutiny to avoid any discrimination. In Adobe’s case, mothers are offered up to 10 weeks of paid medical leave for surgery, childbirth, medical emergency or illness, which must be verified by the employee’s doctor. An additional 16 weeks of paid maternity leave is offered to both mothers and fathers, without the presence of any medical restrictions. However, consider an instance in which a mother were granted 10 weeks leave prior to surgery or childbirth without the need for medical verification from a doctor deeming her unable to work during that time. If the father were not given the same offer, discrimination would become a large concern.
With increasingly enticing benefits being offered, the technology industry trend for paid parental leave will continue growing, and inevitably it will begin to trickle into other industries as companies continue to look for ways to increase workplace productivity and strengthen corporate culture and satisfaction.
For questions regarding paid or unpaid maternity and paternity leave, please contact Philip S. Mortensen.