Business

Amazon expands parental leave benefits for employees

An Amazon employee loads merchandise into a box at the company’s fulfillment center ahead of Cyber Monday in Tracy, Calif. on Nov. 30, 2014.
An Amazon employee loads merchandise into a box at the company’s fulfillment center ahead of Cyber Monday in Tracy, Calif. on Nov. 30, 2014. Bloomberg

Amazon.com will give new fathers paid parental leave and extend paid maternity leave for mothers, as the online retailer seeks to enhance its benefits as a way to attract and retain talent.

Women who have a child can now take as much as 20 weeks of paid leave, up from eight weeks. New parents can take six weeks of paid parental leave. The Seattle-based company previously didn’t offer paternity leave.

The new benefits apply to all births or adoptions on or after Oct. 1, according to a memo distributed to employees Monday.

Amazon employs about 360 people at its distribution center in Concord. Spokesman Aaron Toso said the benefits apply to all full-time hourly and salaried employees but said Amazon doesn’t give breakdowns of full-time and part-time employment at individual facilities.

Amazon’s changes come three months after video-streaming service Netflix Inc. raised the bar on time-off for new parents in August by offering as much as one year of paid leave to new mothers and fathers in the first 12 months after a child’s birth or adoption.

In Charlotte, firms like AvidXchange tout their family leave policies in an effort to attract and retain top talent. Microsoft, which employs about 1,100 in its offices off Arrowood Road, in August said it would offer 12 weeks of paid time-off for all new parents.

Technology companies offer generous benefits compared with other industries because of competition for top talent. Issues of gender equality and family balance have also become hot- button topics in the industry.

Only 12 percent of U.S. private-sector employees have access to any paid family leave through their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. is the only nation in the developed world that doesn’t mandate maternity leave with pay.

Amazon’s expanded parental benefits also follow increased scrutiny over the company’s treatment of workers after a scathing New York Times report in August portrayed the online retailer as a pressure cooker where worker hardships are ignored and back-stabbing is encouraged.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos rejected the article and Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, responded last month with a blog post that refuted some of the newspaper’s claims.

Sam Kennedy, a spokesman for Amazon, declined to comment on the new parental leave policy. The Observer contributed.

  Comments