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Like Yahoo, Should You Extend Maternity Leave?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on May 06, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is making Mother's Day a little more special for her maternal employees, with a new extended maternity leave policy.

Mayer, a working mom herself, got a fair share of backlash when she issued a ban on telecommuting two months ago. But she seems to be making amends with Yahoo's new offer of longer paid leave for new moms -- and dads.

Should your company follow suit and offer extended maternity (and paternity) leave too?

Yahoo's New Policy

Under Yahoo's new maternity leave policy, mothers can take 16 weeks of paid leave with benefits -- twice the length of paid leave under the old policy, reports the San Francisco Bay Area's KNTV. New fathers can take up to eight weeks each time a new child is born.

Both parents can receive eight weeks of paid leave for new children via adoption, foster child placement or surrogacy.

Yahoo will also give new parents $500 to spend on such things as house cleaning, groceries and babysitters, plus Yahoo-branded baby gifts.

The new policy puts the company in the same ballpark as other Silicon Valley rivals: For example, Google gives between 18 and 22 weeks off to new mothers, and Facebook gives new mothers and fathers four months of paid leave, according to KNTV.

Pros and Cons

Of course, tech giants may be better able to offer generous paid time off to new parents than your own small business. If you're considering an extended maternity or paternity leave policy, there are a few pros and cons to factor in, such as:

  • It's great for the company image. A progressive policy is attractive to talent -- including talented men. A corporate strategy that moves with the times gets the cream of the crop which, in turn, improves financial performance.
  • It can be expensive. What's more, the cost of extended paid leave may lead to the unfortunate consequence of managers looking for job candidates who won't use the benefit. But by passing up a qualified younger woman or man in favor of an older candidate, you could potentially be hit with an age discrimination lawsuit.
  • It motivates employees. Yahoo's "baby bucks" will encourage new parents to be engaged with the company and have a little more financial peace of mind. When companies look like insensitive penny-pinchers, it makes for an unpleasant environment.
  • It requires extra planning. Extra maternity leave is an adjustment for the new parents, and their employers. In Yahoo's case, 16 weeks is a long time, and they will have to make staffing adjustments during that period. But coming up with a clear plan and schedule can help companies and new mom business owners as well.

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