The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set the bar for parental leave incredibly high – for American companies, at least. It gave moms and dads 52 weeks of fully-paid leave to spend with their new babies.
Turns out that was a bit too much of a good thing.
The policy that began in 2015 is ending. Employees will now get six months of paid leave – which is still considered generous.
Rice explained the changes in a LinkedIn post, writing:
“We received feedback and saw in practice that a year away was more disruptive than we anticipated. The parental leave absences created backfill positions two and three layers deep. On one team, 50 (percent) of the staff was either on leave or staffed by those in backfill positions, making the regular work of the foundation far more difficult than expected.”
‘Common challenges were magnified’
The yearlong absences caused issues in finding the right to people fill vacant jobs. Rice said bringing returning parents up to speed in positions that had evolved since they were away was a further burden.
“Managers also told us some common challenges were magnified by the leave duration,” he said. “Ultimately, we concluded the 52-week leave was hindering the foundation’s purpose – to maximize our ability to help people around the world live healthy, productive lives.”
The foundation was among a wave of organizations expanding parental leave a few years ago. Netflix was an early adopter in 2015. The streaming giant said new parents generally take four to eight months paid leave.
Paid parental leave is not required by federal law. The Family and Medical Leave Act grants American workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Many other countries offer far more parental leave, some longer than a year.
Six months the sweet spot?
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