Facebook is expanding its policies related to bereavement and family leave. The social-networking giant will give its employees up to 20 days’ paid leave to grieve for an immediate family member, and 10 days for an extended family member. That’s in addition to six weeks’ leave to care for sick relatives.
Announcing the new initiative in a Facebook posting, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose husband died in an accident in 2015, stated that no worker should make a “trade-off” between work and family.
“At a time when nearly nine of ten working women in the United States have no parental or family leave, women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and there’s no system of national paid leave, companies need to step-up and lead,” she added. “I hope more companies will join us and others making similar moves, because America’s families deserve support.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some 61 percent of private-sector employees are covered by some sort of sick leave plan. “The availability and costs of the most common leave benefits, paid holidays, and paid vacations remained virtually unchanged from 1992–1993 through 2012,” the BLS wrote in a note accompanying its data. “Instead of more generous holiday and vacation provisions, other leave benefits such as sick leave and personal leave have shown more growth.”
Facebook’s move is notable because it’s one of those companies capable of starting a broader trend within the technology industry. In a bid to attract top talent, tech firms must often match or exceed the benefits packages offered by rivals; if one company begins offering something especially generous, others may soon follow. Take the case of unlimited paid vacation, which started as an initiative at a small handful of companies (most notably Netflix) before expanding to others, including startups.
Whether other firms will match Facebook’s generosity in terms of paid family leave is an open question, but the company’s move will surely kick off a renewed debate about work-life balance and firms’ responsibilities to employees.