Netflix’s new unlimited parental leave has a few weak spots

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When Netflix announced earlier this week that new mothers and fathers working for the company are now allowed “take as much time off as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption,” many people praised the company’s new policy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few critics. One of the complaints that people have is that, while removing limits on paternal leave is a good idea on paper, it could make people more vulnerable to social pressure. Basically what this means is that people will be silently judging you and you’ll feel obligated to work. 

On Tuesday, Netflix announced its new unlimited parental leave policy. The idea, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer Tawni Cranz wrote on the company blog, is to allow new parents — both moms and dads — to “take as much time off as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.” Instead of a fixed number of consecutive weeks off followed by a definitive return to the office — the standard model, though the number of weeks can vary — Netflix will allow employees to leave and then “return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed.” If the plan works as it’s supposed to, each employee simply “figure[s] out what’s best for them and their family,” and then “works with their managers for coverage during their absences.” In theory, this should mean that employees won’t have to choose between a career and a kid, can keep one foot in the workforce during their absence, and won’t suffer the kind of tacit demotion women tend to encounter upon their returns.

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