BUSINESS
12/09/2015 01:34 pm ET Updated Jan 16, 2017

Netflix Just Made Another Huge Stride On Parental Leave

Hourly workers were previously excluded from the company's generous parental leave policy.
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Netflix is taking a huge step forward for the working parents it employs. 

The California-based tech company announced in August that it would give its salaried employees up to 12 months of paid parental leave to take at their own discretion. The Huffington Post reported at the time that the announcement left out the employees who work on the DVD side of the business, most of whom are hourly employees. Now the company is reversing its decision.

Beginning in 2016, hourly workers will get paid parental leave at 100 percent pay, with various lengths depending on which part of the company they work for. Here's how the leave will work for hourly workers in the streaming, DVD and customer service parts of the business, according to a Netflix statement emailed to HuffPost: 

Streaming: 16 weeks for maternity, paternity and adoptions at full pay. Previously, we didn’t cover paid leave for paternity and adoptions. In the past, maternity disability pay was all we covered, at ⅔.

DVD: 12 weeks for maternity, paternity and adoptions at full pay. Previously we didn’t cover paid leave for paternity and adoptions. In the past, maternity disability pay was all we covered, at ⅔.

[Customer Service]: 14 weeks for maternity, paternity and adoptions at full pay. In the past, maternity disability was all we covered, at 60% of pay. Previously we didn’t cover paid leave for paternity and adoptions.

The statement also notes that "benefits vary depending on decisions made by the leadership of those parts of our business as well as the competitive landscape for each."

The HR trade publication Talent Management first reported last Friday that the company would give hourly workers more paid parental leave.

Though not quite the 12 months salaried workers employed in the streaming part of the business get, 12-16 weeks at full pay is a huge and uncommon benefit for hourly workers. 

The U.S. is not as generous as most other countries when it comes to mandated parental leave -- medium and large companies are required by law to provide 16 weeks of unpaid leave, but there is no federal requirement for paid leave. And while paid leave, particularly for new mothers, tends to be part of a competitive benefits package for highly-skilled salaried workers, hourly workers often have to cobble together a few unpaid weeks off and then head straight back to work.  

Numerous workers' rights groups including Democracy for America, NARAL, and the women's advocacy group UltraViolet, have put out optimistic statements about the new policy, but are still critical of Netflix's two-tiered benefits system.

"All moms and dads of all incomes deserve time to care for their new children," Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, said in a statement. "However, it is disappointing that Netflix is continuing their two-tiered system that says some parents deserve more time to bond with their children than others." 

"'Netflix and chill' shouldn't ever mean leaving workers out in the cold when they most need to spend time with their families," Reuben Hayslett, a campaigner for the Working Families Party, said in a statement. "That's why we're so glad to see Netflix has taken a step in the right direction by expanding paid family leave for their hourly employees. That's more like 'Netflix and care.'"

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