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Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) Unveils ‘Prime’ Leave for Parents

Amazon.com, Inc. is the latest tech giant to improve its parental leave policy. The online retailer will now provide up to 20 weeks of paid leave for new mothers. That’s up from the current 8 weeks. Significantly, for the first time, men will also be eligible for paid paternity leaves. The new changes will take effect from Jan 1, according to an internal memo distributed to employees.

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)

Amazon gets generous

“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,” the memo says. “That can be difficult because more than 80% of American companies don’t provide any paid parental leave,” the firm gloated.

Also, unlike Netflix, Inc. , which got derided for not extending its generous leave policies to lower-skill workers, Amazon’s latest benefits will apply to all full-time employees.

Amazon says it created internal focus groups and studied the policies of other firms before coming out with the updates.

“We also wanted to ensure that all our full-time employees, including our Fulfillment Center and Customer Service Associates, enjoy the same benefits,” the memo adds.

Fight for Talent

Amazon.com, Inc.  joins other tech majors like Microsoft and Accenture in expanding its paid parental leave policy this year. According to the Department of Labor, only 12 percent of U.S. private sector employees have access to some form of paid family leave.

However, firms with deep pockets, and especially tech majors, are increasingly sweetening their leave offerings. And the reasons are not hard to find. The fight for top talent is intense. In the past, extending maternity leave helped Google hold onto female employees. Add to that the growing emphasis on gender equality within the sector.

Bruce Elliott of the Society for Human Resource Management said firms are also increasingly making such updates to stay ahead of any potential legal changes. Paid family leave is becoming a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail.

No Credit is Due to NYT

The Amazon.com, Inc. news becomes even more crucial in the wake of the August New York Times story that claimed the e-tailer had a punishing work culture.  The report included anecdotes from female workers who were told that raising children could hamper their career prospects. “Motherhood can be a liability,” it said.

Amazon has been strongly denying any of those charges levelled. In October, Senior VP for global corporate affairs Jay Carney even wrote a Medium piece to try and discredit the news report.

So did the New York Times story have anything to do with the changed parental policy? Amazon says that it reviews benefits every year and began the current process in early 2015.

Shares of Amazon.com, Inc. closed Monday at $628.35.

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