Amazon Announces Generous New Parental Leave Policies

Tech companies are leading the way with paid family leave.

E-commerce giant Amazon became the latest tech company to expand family leave benefits on par with the biggest in the industry. In an email to employees on Monday, Amazon announced extending maternity leave and including paternity leave in a new policy change. 

New parents — whether through birth or adoption — will get six weeks of paid leave. Birth moms are offered another 10 weeks on top of that, including an extra four weeks of medical leave for moms who qualify. That adds up to 20 weeks of paid time off for some new mothers. It is the first time Amazon is offering paternity leave. 

Through a "leave share program," Amazon employees will be allowed to transfer all or part of their six-week leave to a spouse or partner whose work does not offer paid parental leave. 

The changes apply to babies born or adopted since Oct. 1 and will take effect in the new year. Employees who have worked at the company for at least a year qualify.

Amazon has long shunned the kind of perks that other tech companies are famous for: founder Jeff Bezos reportedly said that if Amazon became "a country club" like Microsoft, "it would die. Notably, it also did not offer paternal leave and only eight weeks of maternity leave. 

The company recently faced intense scrutiny after a New York Times investigation outlined a cutthroat workplace atmosphere that eschewed the idea of a work-life balance. 

The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee new parents paid leave, and companies are plugging that gaping hole in an effort to attract and retain top talent in their industries.

Amazon now joins the likes of Microsoft, Netflix, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier this year, Netflix was lauded for offering unlimited paid paternity and maternity leave in a highly publicized announcement.

Cover image via iStock / Dmitrii Kotin