Category Archives: leave policies

Obama Pushes on Paid Sick Leave

As you may have heard — perhaps while flipping burgers or just generally enjoying the last unofficial day of summer yesterday — President Obama took the occasion of the Labor Day holiday to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave a year to their roughly 300,000 workers, according to the New York Times.

The story notes, however, that the impact of the executive order may not be felt for a few years after Obama leaves office:

“The executive order will have no real effect until after Mr. Obama’s presidency. Because it must first go through a public comment period, it will apply only to new federal contracts starting in 2017. But the White House hopes it will set a standard that will prod lawmakers, private employers, and state and local governments to expand their leave policies.”

For those employees who do not work for a federal contractor that does not provide paid sick leave, hope remains for them as well, as ABC News reports. It just ran a piece on how paid sick-leave laws vary across the country:

The good news for employees is that the number of paid sick leave laws has more than doubled in the past year, according to XpertHR, and that legal landscape is going to change with new laws that will take effect next year in places like Oregon; Tacoma, Washington; and Montgomery County, Maryland.

The story also breaks down the paid sick-leave laws on the books from New Jersey to California.

While employees are definitely welcoming the general shift toward more paid-sick time, ABC News quotes a source from the National Federation of Independent Business, who, “while acknowledging that Mr. Obama has the authority to place conditions on federal contractors, said his latest action was another burdensome government mandate” on private companies.

“No business in America would require its suppliers and contractors to increase costs that will naturally boomerang back in the form of higher prices,” said Jack Mozloom, the federation’s media director.

Not So Fast on the Netflix Good News, Says Group

Invariably, any large company — especially one that’s in the news — attracts its detractors as well as its fans. Just try “Googling” “anti-494368457 -- mother and infantWalmart websites” and see what comes up on the nation’s largest employer.

So no surprise, really, that Netflix’s recent announcement — that it would offer unlimited leave to new moms and dads, allowing them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption — has yielded an “anti-stir.”

A women’s group calling itself UltraViolet just rolled out an ad campaign last week against what it claims are Netflix’s discriminatory practices in not opening its new leave program to the poorest among its ranks instead of just the wealthiest. (Here’s the actual petition for those who want to join the fight.)

According to an emailed announcement about this new uprising, “more than 47,700 UV members have demanded Netflix give its hourly workers the same ‘unlimited’ parental-leave benefits that workers who make $300,000 receive.” As Nita Chaudhary, UV’s co-founder, puts it:

“People are taking notice that Netflix is expecting praise for extending parental leave to its higher-paid employees, yet it doesn’t extend those benefits to the hourly employees who need it most.

“It’s important that Netflix set an example for the rest of employers and companies nationwide: With one in four moms going back to work less than two weeks after giving birth, Netflix can turn the tide by giving ALL employees equal benefits — not just reserve those benefits [for the wealthiest ones].”

The women’s group contends this exemption was somehow left out of the company’s announcement, the latter of which has certainly been reverberating positively throughout the business community, as this feature about the move in Fortune indicates. And this, from BuzzFeed News, indicating other big Silicon Valley companies have been following suit — including Microsoft and Adobe — in announcing similar unlimited paternity leave programs since Netflix’s announcement.

Indeed, I saw no mention of any exemption in the announcement. Nor was it mentioned in Andrew R. McIlvanie’s blog post that included news of the announcement. (Though that post does examine the problem of unlimited leave policies being launched in corporate cultures that don’t support them … which may or may not be the case at Netflix.)

I did reach out to the company about all this, and got the following back from a company spokesperson:

“Across Netflix, we compare salary and benefits to those of employees at businesses performing similar work. Those comparisons show we provide all of our employees with comparable or better pay and benefits than at other companies. For example, medical and life insurance for DVD workers exceeds market standards. All DVD employees including hourly are also eligible for a minimum of 12 weeks off for maternity or paternity leave. We are regularly reviewing policies across our business to ensure they are competitive and help us attract and keep the best employees.”

Nothing on the UV ad campaign. Nothing on any exemption in its new policy. Like so many other big-splash initiatives and subsequent fallout, I guess we’ll just have to let this one play out.