‘Leave share’ Allows Both Parents To Take Paid Time Off

OPINION
By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune.

On the heels of some spectacularly bad publicity about its workplace culture, Amazon has rolled out a new family leave policy that allows for 20 weeks of paid leave, plus the option to “leave share” with your partner, even if he or she doesn’t work for Amazon.

Full-time hourly and salaried employees, Amazon fulfillment center and customer-service employees are all eligible.

The company, possibly reeling from articles in Gawker and the New York Times depicting a ruthless work culture, declined my request for an interview but agreed to email me a copy of the policy, which I have to say, sounds pretty great.

“Birth mothers can now take up to 4 weeks of paid pre-partum medical leave followed by 10 weeks of paid maternity leave,” the policy states. “Birth mothers and all other new parents who have been at Amazon for a year or more can also take a new 6-week paid parental leave. … All together, these policies provide birth mothers who have been at Amazon more than one year with up to 20 weeks of leave.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting.

“One thing we hear from new mothers at Amazon is that they wish their spouse or partner could also take paid time off from work. That can be difficult because more than 80 percent of American companies don’t provide any paid parental leave. To help families address the financial challenge of taking unpaid time off, we’ve invented a new program called Leave Share, which allows you to share all or a portion of your six-week parental leave with a spouse or partner who doesn’t have paid leave through his or her employer.”

(The partner would, ostensibly, be using time made possible by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which ensures that employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave after the birth or adoption of a child.)

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