Just in time for Black Friday, and after literally years of terrible press about their soul-crushing work conditions, Amazon appears to be quietly expanding their parental leave policies. A tipster who works at the company just forwarded Jezebel details of the new policy, which includes paternity leave for the first time.

Amazon’s total lack of paternal leave was one of the many details disclosed in a damning New York Times piece this August. Female employees said they felt penalized by becoming pregnant. Julia Cheiffetz wrote a follow-up on Medium disclosing her bruising experience at the company having a baby and cancer back-to-back. She returned from five months of maternity leave to find that none of her subordinates reported to her any longer. She was promptly placed on a “performance improvement plan” and quit soon after.

The message forwarded to us says that Amazon will now offer “up to 20 weeks” of parental leave for “birth mothers”, and six weeks for “all other new parents.” The company also says they’ve designed a “leave share” program to help Amazon employees share their leave time with non-employees, and a “ramp back” program to help new parents return to work:

Expanding Maternity and Parental Leave
November 02, 2015

​ Amazon now offers up to 20 paid weeks of leave, the ability to share up to 6 weeks of paid leave with a spouse or partner, and a flexible return to work program. These benefits apply to all full-time hourly and salaried employees, including 100,000+ Fulfillment Center and Customer Service Associates.

Enhanced Leaves for Mothers and Fathers
Birth mothers can now take up to 4 weeks of paid pre-partum medical leave followed by 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. Birth mothers and all other new parents who have been at Amazon for a year or more can also take a new 6-week paid parental leave. RSUs will continue to vest during the new pre-partum and maternity leaves. All together, these policies provide birth mothers who have been at Amazon more than one year with up to 20 weeks of leave.

Leave Share Program

One thing we hear from new mothers at Amazon is that they wish their spouse or partner could also take paid time off from work. That can be difficult because more than 80% of American companies don’t provide any paid parental leave. To help families address the financial challenge of taking unpaid time off, we’ve invented a new program called Leave Share, which allows you to share all or a portion of your six-week parental leave with a spouse or partner who doesn’t have paid leave through his or her employer.

Here’s an example. Julia is an associate at an Amazon Fulfillment Center and recently had a baby. She’s taken 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and would like to come back to work.

Ideally, she’d like her husband to take some time off at this point, which would make her return to work easier. However, her husband’s employer provides only unpaid paternity leave, and it’s going to be financially difficult for him to take time off. That’s where the Leave Share Program can help. Julia can share all or a portion of her paid parental leave with her husband, and he can stay home and help with their new baby.

While this example describes a birth mother at Amazon sharing her leave benefits with her husband, Leave Share will work the same way for Amazon fathers and same-sex couples. Leave Share is a novel program and we hope it helps provide you and your family with additional flexibility during this special time.

Ramp Back Program

In addition, we’ve created the Ramp Back Program for birth mothers and primary care givers. With this program, you can ease back to work with up to 8 weeks of flexible time. You can use the program at your discretion in the way that works best for you – choosing from part-time options of 50% or 75%.

More Flexibility

You also get to choose when you take your Parental Leave under this new plan – either in one continuous 6-week period or split into two periods within 12 months of birth or adoption.

The United States is one of the only developed countries that has no mandated paid leave for new parents; the federal minimum standard is twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Federal employees now get six weeks of paid leave, and the average at private companies is about seven to ten weeks.

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Tech companies, though, are usually better than the average: in 2012, Google expanded their paid maternity leave to five months at full pay. Yahoo now offers biological mothers a total of sixteen weeks. Facebook offers a full four months for any new parent, regardless of gender or how their child came into existence.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.
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