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Adobe Is The Latest Tech Company To Overhaul Its Parental Leave Policy [UPDATED]

Adobe just announced that new parents can take up to 26 weeks, with pay. But there are some caveats.

Adobe Is The Latest Tech Company To Overhaul Its Parental Leave Policy [UPDATED]
[Photo: Flickr user Nelson Braillard]

On the heels of Netflix’s major update to its parental leave policy, Adobe is announcing its own effort to improve the way it treats new parents on its staff.

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In a blog post called “Helping Our Employees Care for Their Families,” by Adobe’s senior vice president of people and places Donna Morris, the company calls out the U.S. government’s mandates for paid leave as “currently slim to nonexistent.” That’s why this new policy will be for American staffers only. Based on its 2014 annual report, Adobe has 12,499 employees and 52% of those employees work outside the U.S.

Morris writes that while “caring for yourself and your family at home helps you be your best at work, companies must navigate the tough balance between supporting employees during major life events and meeting business goals.”

Adobe announced the following U.S. leave programs, effective November 1:

  • Medical Leave: Employees will receive up to 10 weeks of paid time off after surgery, childbirth, medical emergency, or illness.
  • Parental Leave: Primary caregivers will receive 16 weeks of paid time off, allowing new parents more time to spend bonding with their children. This benefit includes moms and dads who have become parents through childbirth, surrogacy, adoption or foster care.
  • Maternity Leave: Through the combination of Medical Leave (10 weeks) and Parental Leave (16 weeks), mothers who have given birth will receive up to 26 weeks of paid time off.
  • Family Care Leave: Employees can take up to four weeks paid time off to care for a sick family member.

For comparison, Netflix’s new parental leave policy is “unlimited,” meaning that new moms and dads can take as much (paid) time as they need during the first year following childbirth or adoption. Facebook offers 17 weeks with pay and $4,000 cash. Yahoo provides 16 weeks paid leave for new biological moms, but fathers and adoptive parents get only eight weeks. Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Twitter similarly offer more time to biological mothers than to new fathers or to new adoptive parents.

Morris writes:

At Adobe, we often say that our most important assets leave the building at the end of the day. Our employees are our intellectual property and our future. Now we will better support all of them, across a spectrum of age, gender and experience, with a diverse mix of family needs and situations. The investment is unquestionably worth it.

We have reached out to Adobe for more information after the announcement.

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Update Tuesday 8:30 a.m. ET: Morris responded to our request for clarification on the policies via email.

Morris said that the decision to offer birth mothers up to 26 weeks was based on observing what staffers had done in the past after childbirth. “Many employees were staying out for six months following childbirth by combining vacation time, sabbatical, and parental leave,” she explained. “With the new leave policy they no longer have to stitch together time from various programs to get the time off they need.”

That said, Morris pointed out that employees are encouraged to take time as they need if there are complications after the birth. The enhanced medical leave policy offers employees up to 10 weeks at full pay, she underscores, and after that the time off is at reduced pay.

Of course, the paid time off policy is just a guideline, she said. “We put these new benefits in place for individual employees so they can make decisions about what is best for them and their families. They are not required to take leave,” Morris said.

And if they do take any part or all of the leave offered, Morris notes that employees are not expected to work during that time. Doesn’t that compromise their position? Or perhaps indicate that it is really not necessary at all? “Managers will be able to explore different options for backfilling while their employee is on leave–temp help, rotational opportunities for someone within the organization, etc.,” Morris said. “The intent is to keep business moving as usual, while allowing the employee the time and peace of mind they need during these critical times in their family lives.”

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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