Parental leave has been one of the most discussed topics in the world for a long time, mostly attributed to the fact that these policies did not seem to be effective for most employees. As of 2016, major tech companies worldwide started changing their policies to go above and beyond government requirements. The intention was to ensure that not only their employees have more time off before and after having a baby, but also to make sure that their time off is fully paid.
According to a survey by Recode in 2018, the world's major tech companies offer great benefits when it comes to parental leave for their employees. Netflix holds the first place, with 52 weeks of paid parental leave for both new moms and their partners (following either birth or adoption), followed by Microsoft and Airbnb, both offering 22 weeks of paid maternity leave (12 weeks and 10 weeks of non-birth parent paid leave, respectively).
Amazon, meanwhile, holds the fifth place, right after Twitter (20 weeks for both parents), offering 20 weeks of paid maternity leave and 6 weeks of paid leave for non-birth parents. As of April 2020, Amazon’s number of employees worldwide is estimated to be a whopping 935,000, all of whom can now enjoy the benefits of its new parental leave policy.
No More Two-Tier Benefits
One key point that should be highlighted regarding this new policy is that the e-commerce giant currently provides the same parental leave benefits to all of its full-time employees, including its hourly workers. This is in contrast with the previous policy where only corporate employees, such as software developers and executives with high salaries, could enjoy the perks. Now, all Amazon's hourly warehouse workers have access to the enhanced benefits as well.
The overhaul of the two-tier system is possibly one of the best steps that Amazon ever took. It shows great care and interest in all of its employees' well-being, regardless of whether they are highly-paid software developers or hourly workers in operations and logistics.
Benefits for Both Parents
Amazon offers the benefits of paid parental leave to all of its full-time workers who put in over 30 hours per week. New moms can get 20 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, 4 of which can be taken before they give birth. After that, they can have up to 16 weeks off, which will be paid in full. Meanwhile, new fathers working at Amazon are entitled to 6 weeks of paid non-birth parent leave, even if their significant others work at another company. This paternity leave policy also applies for Amazon workers who have adopted a child.
One of its parental leave policy aspects which separates Amazon from other companies is its ‘Leave Share’ program. As its name suggests, through this program, their employees are allowed to share their parental leave with their partners. This is especially beneficial for those with spouses whose employers do not offer paid parental leave. Not sure how this works? Let us walk you through an example.
Aaron Toso, Amazon's PR specialist, took two weeks off when his wife, Meghan, gave birth to their daughter in September 2016. He shared the remaining four weeks of his parental leave with his wife, who doesn't work at Amazon and has no paid maternity leave. During his two weeks leave, Toso was paid his full salary by Amazon. Similarly, Meghan was also paid the same amount during her four weeks leave despite not being an Amazon employee.
Toso said in an interview that, because of Amazon's great new parental leave policy, his wife did not have to worry about getting back to work quickly. He also added that the benefit really helped them a lot as they wanted to enjoy spending time with their newborn together as a family, especially during the first few months of her life.
The ‘Leave Share’ program was, in fact, designed with hourly warehouse workers in mind. After getting feedback from a number of focus groups, Amazon's HR director, Steve Winter, and the company's CEO, Jeff Bezos, started to think on how they could improve the new parents' experience at the company and provide them, and their partners, with an opportunity to rest.
"Ramp Back" Program
Another aspect of the new parental policy which makes Amazon truly stand out from the others is the ‘Ramp Back’ program. This program enables new parents, regardless of gender, to take up to 8 weeks of flexible work schedule and reduced work hours.
The ‘Ramp Back’ initiative is beneficial to both Amazon and its hourly warehouse workers as new parents will be properly rested and much better prepared to get back to work. That physical and emotional relief will, in turn, reflect on the company's overall success as employees’ morale will not be dampened leading to better work efficiency. Additionally, Amazon can stand to gain a better reputation for taking great care of their employees’ welfare.
With the revision of its parental policy, Amazon created a group of about 40 HR employees who act as ‘parent ambassadors’ who help new parents stay in the loop with everything business-related while they are on parental leave. These ambassadors will stay in touch with them until they are ready to come back to work.
This is yet another great benefit that all Amazon's full-time workers can enjoy when it comes to parental leave and another reason why the Seattle-based e-commerce giant stands out from other major tech companies when it comes to benefits for its full-time employees.
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Zakiyah is a freelance content writer. She’s a lifelong learner, looking for opportunities to expand her horizons whenever she can. She loves traveling, playing volleyball and reading up on general developments in the industry.