Spotify's new maternal/paternal leave policy reads like every new parent's wish list—but we still have a long way to go to spread the wealth.
Paid maternity and paternity leave may not be a reality for all new parents in the U.S.—well, not just yet—but thankfully, a string of companies have been bent on changing that. The latest corporation to roll out a family-friendly package is Spotify.
The streaming service's policy reads like a wish list: Six months paid leave for all new parents (that's right, moms and dads), including those who adopt or use a surrogate; the ability to start back part-time and work from home during the first month back; and the option to extend leave until the child turns 3 (unpaid, but still!). Plus, any of Spotify's employees who had a child since January 1, 2013 will receive an additional six months of paid leave. Oh, and the Swedish-based company will actually encourage its employees to take advantage of the benefit.
- Don't forget to sign up to receive our free Parents Daily Baby newsletter
I know, my head is spinning, too.
Though not every boss is able to swing such a comprehensive package, more and more companies are trying. We've seen such giants as Vodafone, Adobe, Microsoft, and Netflix unveil excellent packages for new moms and dads, and more recently, Zillow and Amazon have as well. The real estate site is now offering all full-time employees up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and eight weeks of paid paternity leave, while the e-commerce heavyweight has revamped its policy to include 20 weeks of paid leave for moms, plus share up to six weeks of leave with a partner. Even smaller companies are finding ways to help new parents transition back to the daily grind. Rachel Zoe, for instance, offers an on-site (and wildly swanky) nursery so mom employees can balance both duties.
While it's great that more businesses are seeing the light, their policies bring to relief the stone-cold reality too many of us face after baby is born: Use a hodgepodge of sick leave, vacation time, and paid leave to extend your time off. Beg, borrow, cheat, and steal to be able to afford whatever unpaid leave you can squeeze out of your managers. Or suck it up and go back to work before you're ready. For the majority of new parents, no middle ground exists.
But all that may change. We're entering into an election year, and the recent swell of high-profile paid leave policies could be the tipping point that gives it Major Issue status. (President Obama's vocal support for it doesn't hurt, either.) Though paid leave is a fairly popular concept—hey, who doesn't want to help new parents?—that doesn't mean it's any easier getting candidates to talk specifics about their plans. What we can do, though, is ask questions and listen—really listen—to what these men and women propose over the next several months. Any federal policy won't be nearly as expansive as Spotify's, but chances are it'll be leaps and bounds better than what we have now. Then next November, we can let our voices be heard in the most powerful place possible: the voting booth.
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.