Peer-to-peer e-commerce site Etsy is upping the ante for parental leave policies in the US.
On Tuesday the company announced that, beginning in April, all employees will be eligible for 26 weeks of fully paid leave that can be taken over the two years following the birth or adoption of a child.
According to parental leave data from online job review site Fairygodboss, only a few other major US employers rival the amount of paid maternity leave. Those employers include Netflix and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at 52 weeks and Adobe, which also offers 26 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Etsy’s policy takes parental leave another step further by offering equal paid leave to all new parents regardless of gender, birthing means, or country of residence. Major US companies that offer equal time to all parents currently include Netflix, Facebook, and Spotify.
According to the company’s director of culture and engagement, Juliet Gorman, the company designed its new leave policy to be flexible, gender-neutral, and to counteract unconscious bias.
“We want to support and enable parents, regardless of their gender, to play equal roles in building successful companies and nurturing their families,” Gorman writes on Medium. “We believe it fits squarely within Etsy’s mission to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.”
Gorman’s Medium post is chock full of data that supports Etsy’s decision to create a more inclusive leave policy.
Among the many reasons she cites are that taking paternity leave early in the baby’s life is correlated with greater paternal involvement years later; children benefit from involved caregiver fathers; women benefit from sharing parenting responsibilities with a partner; and parents face bias at work that impacts their recognition and advancement.
“Many traditional parental leave policies don’t treat people equally, including single parents, adoptive parents, and parents who use surrogates,” Gorman says. “While we recognise the unique toll of giving birth, we believe that all members of a family benefit from generous, inclusive leave.”
Etsy’s announcement comes at a critical time for American families: Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, qualifying American are guaranteed 12 weeks of “reasonable” leave for certain family and medical situations including the birth or adoption of a child.
While the law requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide new parents with 12 weeks of leave, it doesn’t require this leave to be paid, and the policy is restricted to full-time employees who have been with the company for more than a year. All told, this applies to about 60% of workers in the US.
“We’re proud to be a pioneer in building a diverse, inclusive workplace and helping to shape how US-based companies think about parental leave and gender equality,” Gorman says.
Etsy hopes that, with its new policy as one example, policy-makers and business leaders will find a way “to provide a stable and flexible safety net for all people,” Gorman explains.
“We believe parental leave policies like ours are just one step towards a more fulfilling, lasting world,” she says.
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