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5 Parental Leave Policies in Startups Around the World

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We’re becoming aware of how much the internet era has changed the way we work. There are more and more freelancers, part-timers, remote workers, etc. In fact, the gig economy is threatening to become one of the most common ways of working. The way we go on vacations has changed too! Just as we thought automation and technology will be able to save us some precious time, we realized we got it wrong. Almost 60 percent of Americans didn’t go on a vacation in the past year! But, how much impact the internet era was able to make on the way we use our parental leave? More so, what kind of parental leave policies exist in startups around the world?

Netflix: the king who adopted one of the longest parental leave policies 

Over two years ago, Netflix announced its “unlimited” parental leave policy. For employees, men and women, this meant they can take up to one year of parental leave after their child is born.

The reason for such a smart HR and marketing move was noticing “that employees do better at work when they’re not worried about what’s happening at home”.

Most Americans (because we’re aware of US parental leave policies) would shake their heads in disbelief. However, what we might ask here is: who would take that much time off from one of the biggest streaming media companies? And what’s more important, would it be a huge setback instead of a perk as it appears to be on the surface? Would women fall into a “mommy trap” causing them to get fewer promotions or will that happen to fathers too?

There is an ongoing debate about parental leave policies like the one Netflix has. The “catch” hides in the difference Netflix makes between its salaried and non-salaried workers because the offer stands only for the first ones. Employees in their distribution centers don’t, unfortunately, have the same privileges. Which is quite discriminatory – families who need it the most will be left without much-needed help. Seems like a fine balance between work and personal life is reserved only for white-collared employees.

Why this parental leave policy is good for Netflix? As we said before implementing one of the most liberal parental leave policies startups are offering, Netflix made a great HR move. Not only they are able to attract talent, but they will be able to retain it. And when you see how much money companies spend to replace a worker, giving a year off due to parental leave doesn’t sound like a very bad idea.

Amazon is a parent-friendly company. Or is it?

Amazon is well known for its harsh work environment and the way it treats its employees. Working in this big startup is not like working on Facebook or Google. Amazon “offers no pretense that catering to employees is a priority”. And Jeff Bezos seems to hold tight to the belief that harmony is often overvalued in the workplace.

However, three years ago they finally made a step towards making their approach to office culture more “employee-centric”. In fact, they decided to offer paid paternity and maternity leave. Moms and dads will get 20 weeks off from work along with the additional 6 paid weeks off from work.

This decision came to light only a few months after Google, Netflix, and Microsoft unveiled their parental leave policies. Maybe Amazon’s decision came out of the backlash of the NY Times article which examined Amazon’s work culture. Or this is a one-step towards retaining their workforce. We can tell it with certainty; however, we can only applaud this decision.

Parental leave policies in startups: Case Reddit

When it comes to Reddit, this startup offers one of the best parental leave policies in the tech industry and it scores nearly a 100% return rate for new parents.  A few years ago, Reddit’s heads expressed a desire to be more inclusive and flexible towards their employees. That’s why they agreed on 16 weeks of paid parental leave. On top of that, birth moms will get an additional four months of paid leave to fully recover which they can use up to one year upon the child’s birth or they can split it up, as preferred.

If you thought Reddit will stop only on that, you’re wrong. The other benefits this company offers to its employees are flexible time off after the child is born, breastfeeding rooms, childcare, and much more.

For the employees considering adoption, this company is providing assistance and it will pay for egg freezing, fertility testing, and gene testing. How cool is that?


Etsy is one of the champions when it comes to parental leave policies in startups. This company is willing to offer up to 26 weeks of paid (gender-neutral) parental leave. What’s more, their employees are able to trade up to 14 weeks of parental leave in exchange for a cash payment. Also, as a part of the parental leave policy, Etsy includes backup childcare services, a mother’s room in all offices, and a Parents Employee Resource Group.


At first glance, it seems like Pinterest offers the least amount of paid parental leave days to its workers. Sixteen in total if we don’t count four additional weeks their workers get through Pinterest’s Gradual Return to Work program. Employees can choose to work part-time, while still getting full-time pay to ease them back into their work routine.

But that’s not all. The company offers other perks such as four IVF cycles, egg freezing, up to $5,000 for adoption assistance, up to $20,000 to cover costs associated with surrogacy, lactation consultant coverage and fully furnished lactation rooms in all offices, free Milk Stork delivery services, access to Cleo and Rethink services, at-home birth coverage, parent resource groups, on-site lending of children’s books through BookTree, one year paid membership to Urbansitter and family-friendly events.

But can small startups afford to offer paid parental leave?

They can and they have to. If they want to retain top talent, that’s so. The U.S. is vicious when it comes to parental leave policies because there’s no federal legislation covering this topic. And given the vast majority of startups come from Silicon Valley we need to support those changes. And when you see what kind of impact implementing those policies have on business, they won’t regret their decision. Google, for example, decreased attrition among new mothers by 50 percent by increasing leave to 18 weeks.

Are you working in a startup?

We’re aware that we shared information about big startups, however, data on the smaller ones are still unknown to the general public. If you’re working in a startup, share with us the parental leave policy or average PTO that your startup has. We would gladly read about it!

Before you accept the biggest job in your life, take a vacation

Vacations are good for you, and we know it. However, sometimes we can feel as if there isn’t just enough room to leave the office for a week or two. Using software like vacation tracker can help you organize your employee’s vacations in seconds. Why don’t you give it a try and request a free demo?

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Ana Mladenovic
Ana Mladenovic

A cat enthusiast and a cupcake maniac, Ana is a freelance Content Writer passionate about HR, productivity, and team management topics. When she’s not at her keyboard, you can find Ana in the kitchen, trying to make delicious cookies.

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