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  • 2015

    Netflix upped the stakes in the tech industry when it announced it was implementing an unlimited fully-paid parental leave policy during the first year of a child’s birth or adoption. Microsoft quickly announced that it was expanding its parental leave policy, extending fully paid time off to twelve weeks for both mothers and fathers, with an additional eight weeks of fully paid maternity disability leave for new mothers. 

    While generous parental leave benefits are fairly common in the highly-competitive tech industry, paid parental leave is uncommon across the United States. No federal law requires an employer to offer paid time off to new parents, and only a handful of states provide paid time off to them. For example, California provides new mothers and fathers six weeks of partial paid leave through the Paid Family Leave program, and new mothers with ten weeks (4 weeks pre-birth and 6 weeks after) of partial paid leave through the State Disability Insurance program. Those programs are administered through the state, however, not the individual employer. 

    What’s Your Company Policy?

    Even though employers are not legally required to provide paid parental leave, an employer’s own policies may require it to provide paid leave to new parents. Generally, if an employer makes personal or medical leave available to its workers, it must make such leave available to pregnant employees and new parents. The same is true for personal and vacation leave: employers generally must allow new parents to use this time off as parental leave if the employee meets the other requirements of the policy. Whatever an employer’s policies are with respect to parental leave, those policies should apply equally to men and women to avoid a potential sex discrimination lawsuit. 

    Employers have to navigate a myriad of state and federal laws when developing their personnel policies, including their parental leave policies, and are advised to work closely with their employment counsel in doing so. 

    For more information contact:
    Gary E. Scalabrini, Esq.
    Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP 
    1880 Century Park East 12th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA 90067
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