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Netflix introduces unlimited paid maternity and paternity leave for new parents

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Amy Swales
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Its innovative HR policies, including giving employees the freedom to take as much holiday as they like, went viral in Silicon Valley, and now Netflix has made headlines again by introducing an unlimited maternity and paternity leave scheme.

Parents working at the media company in any country – including the UK – will be paid in full for the first year of their child's birth or adoption, regardless of when or if they return to work during that time. They can also choose whether to go back on a part- or full-time basis, and can even return to work and decide to go on leave again if necessary.

In a statement on their blog, Netflix – which employs nearly 2,500 people worldwide – said: “We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances [...] Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.

“Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field. Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home.”

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Mumsnet Deputy Editor Kate Williams told Stylist.co.uk that the move was a step in the right direction. “It's great to see big companies driving really innovative approaches like this.

“The more businesses embrace family-friendly policies, the more mothers will be able to have children without taking a career hit – which benefits the economy too – and the more fathers will be able to spend significant amounts of time with their children in the early years.”

It's likely to be particularly welcomed by American employees, as the US is currently the only developed country in the world that doesn't guarantee any paid maternity leave.

Though described by some as a “game changer”, the move is relatively unsurprising for a company known for valuing its workers. Netflix is famous for letting its staff take unlimited holiday leave, manage their own work expenses without need for management approval, and work any hours as long as the job gets done. Employees are also allowed to decide how much of their salaries are paid in company stock.

A spokesperson told Stylist.co.uk: “As mentioned in our blog post, this is simply part of the Netflix culture, which is based on freedom and responsibility, treating employees as responsible adults.

“We ask our employees to make the best decisions for Netflix everyday. This frees them to do the same for their expanding families with the company's full support.”

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Netflix has seen a huge rise in popularity, thanks to shows like OITNB

Big tech companies in particular, such as Google, Apple and Facebook, have become known for taking different approaches to the work environment, with the relaxed culture, fun offices and perks such as free food and gyms of Google seeing it voted the best place to work in the UK last year.

Family-wise, what was described as a “perks arms race” between Silicon Valley companies last year had Facebook and Apple go so far as to controversially offer employees money toward egg-freezing procedures, in addition to Apple's 18 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks paid paternity leave, and Facebook's four months' of paid leave and $4,000 (approximately £2,600) bonus for new parents.

Meanwhile, Google gives new mums a $500 (£320) bonus in addition to paid leave, while other benefits include childcare consultations for parents, discounts for nanny agencies, and “mother’s rooms” complete with hospital-standard sterilisation equipment in all Google buildings.

Yahoo also gives parents $500 for baby-related expenses, and at some locations throwing employees “new child showers” – not just for those expecting, but even those thinking of starting a family so that Yahoo's various programmes can be explained, which include benefits such as $5,000 toward adoption.

Images: Rex Features

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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.

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