Amazon expands parental leave benefits for employees

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(Bloomberg) — Inc. will give new fathers paid parental leave and extend paid maternity leave for mothers, as the online retailer seeks to enhance its benefits as a way to attract and retain talent.

Also see: “Nestle joins Netflix, Adobe and others in paid-leave movement.”

Women who have a child can now take as much as 20 weeks of paid leave, up from eight weeks. New parents can take six weeks of paid parental leave. The Seattle-based company previously didn’t offer paternity leave. The new benefits apply to all births or adoptions on or after Oct. 1, according to a memo distributed to employees Monday.

Amazon’s changes come three months after video-streaming service Netflix Inc. raised the bar on time-off for new parents in August by offering as much as one year of paid leave to new mothers and fathers in the first 12 months after a child’s birth or adoption. At Facebook Inc., mothers and fathers get four months paid leave plus $4,000 in “baby cash,” while at Google Inc. employees are entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave. Microsoft Corp. in August said it would offer 12 weeks of paid time-off for all new parents.

Technology companies offer generous benefits compared with other industries because of competition for top talent. Issues of gender equality and family balance have also become hot- button topics in the industry. Only 12% of U.S. private- sector employees have access to any paid family leave through their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. is the only nation in the developed world that doesn’t mandate maternity leave with pay.

Amazon’s expanded parental benefits also follow increased scrutiny over the company’s treatment of workers after a scathing New York Times report in August portrayed the online retailer as a pressure cooker where worker hardships are ignored and back-stabbing is encouraged. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos rejected the article and Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, responded last month with a blog post that refuted some of the newspaper’s claims.

Sam Kennedy, a spokesman for Amazon, declined to comment on the new parental leave policy.

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