In an effort to lead the way on work-life balance, Facebook has added new paid leave options for its employees grappling with the loss or sickness of a family member.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced the policy changes on her personal Facebook account Tuesday evening, noting that the social network will now offer its employees up to 20 days paid leave to grieve an immediate family member, up to ten days to grieve an extended family member and up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a sick relative. Facebook will also begin offering paid family sick time of three days off to take care of family member with a short-term illness, such as a child with the flu.
Facebook was already amongst the most progressive companies when it comes to parental leave, offering four months of paid time off for both new moms and dads after childbirth or adoption. Its CEO Mark Zuckerberg actually took those four months off after the birth of his daughter, too, leading by example for the rest of the company. Facebook also introduced policies in 2015 to increase contractor and vendor pay to a minimum of $15 per hour and to ensure they receive paid vacation and sick days and partial income during parental leave.
This week's changes recognize the reality that there are other times in an employee's life outside the birth of a child where they may need time off and where the lack of it could force them to leave the workforce. Sandberg says she doesn't want Facebook employees to have to choose between working or being there for their families, and she hopes other companies will follow Facebook's lead. Right now, with no federal mandate for paid leave in the US, policies like this are extremely rare. (See Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits.)
"At a time when nearly nine of ten working women in the United States have no parental or family leave, women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and there's no system of national paid leave, companies need to step-up and lead," Sandberg wrote in the post. "I hope more companies will join us and others making similar moves, because America's families deserve support."
Facebook has made a public commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workforce, but it also has a ways to go on both moving the needle in its diversity numbers and changing the culture of its workplace to do so. It recently was suggested that the company has struggled to recruit female and diverse engineers, despite incentivizing recruiters to do so, because they were blocked in their final round of interviews by a committee of senior-level (mostly white and male) engineers. (See What Facebook's Recruiting Woes Tell Us and Championing Change: It's a Cultural Thing.)
That said, while tech companies in Silicon Valley have all generally struggled in diversity and inclusion, they have led the way in innovative leave policies and job perks. Many tech companies, like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) offer generous parental leave packages. And more still offer unique perks like unlimited Kindle subscriptions, time off for volunteering, egg freezing and travel vouchers. (See Netflix Ups the Ante on Parental Leave and WiCipedia: Faulty Feminism, Worthy Women & Peculiar Perks.)
— Sarah Thomas, , Director, Women in Comms