Facebook Announces New Parental Leave Policy For All Full-Time Employees

I have good news, especially if you work at Facebook. Facebook will now give all employees four months of paid parental leave, for everyone who works full-time for the company. Under the old company policy, new parents working in the US were entitled to four months of leave, but the policy is now extended to all employees, regardless of their gender or their location. The policy does not alter the existing option for four months of paid maternal leave for new moms after giving birth, but now makes it much easier for new fathers and people in same-sex couples to take time off to be with their children.

The Facebook policy change comes shortly after Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would be taking two months off after the birth of his daughter (Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced they were expecting a child last July).

The company announced the new policy in a Facebook post (how else?) from their head of human resources, Lori Matloff Goler. "In reviewing our parental leave policies, we have decided to make this change because it's the right thing to do for our people and their families," she writes. "Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families."

In this spirit, she explains, "Starting on January 1, 2016, all new dads and same-sex partners at Facebook will receive four months of paid leave to bond with a new baby, whether they are the primary caregiver or not. All new parents in all of our offices worldwide, including those who had or adopted a baby in 2015 and were Facebook employees at the time, will be eligible."

Facebook is one of many companies that has revised their parental leave policies to make them more inclusive, and more supportive of new parents. In the past few months alone, Spotify and Microsoft have expanded their parental leave policies for both mothers and fathers, and Netflix even decided to allow parents up to one full year of paid parental leave. Comparatively, Facebook's policy is hardly the most progressive of the bunch, but it's awesome any time a major company expands their parental leave, especially companies like Facebook that are seen as industry leaders.

Right now the US is the only industrialized nation that doesn't have federally mandated paid maternity leave, though certain states do require it. Which is very much not ideal — after all, maternity and paternity leave are both important if we ever want to achieve workplace gender equality, and the only way to truly ensure everyone has access to it is to require it by law. But although many US politicians have embraced the need for paid family leave, so far, things haven't changed. And as things stand now, only 12 percent of US employees have paid family leave and in fact, one in four new moms returns to work within just two weeks of giving birth.

So as long as our laws aren't going to provide for paid family leave, it's nice to see more and more companies embracing it themselves. Because while nothing beats federal protection, if paid family leave, for parents of all genders, becomes standard and expected, it will be harder for companies to get away with having sub-par policies. And hopefully, things will get better.