Etsy, the international online marketplace for unique, hand-crafted goods, just announced a fairly unique parental leave policy.
Starting next month, it will offer both male and female employees 26 weeks of paid parental leave during the first two years of a child’s life. That’s well above the 12 paid weeks offered currently to primary caregivers and the 5 weeks offered to secondary caregivers.
It will be available to anyone who becomes a parent through birth, adoption or surrogacy, regardless of their gender, where they live or family circumstance.
“We designed our new parental leave policy to be flexible, gender-blind and to counteract unconscious bias. … We believe that what’s good for families is good for business,” said Juliet Gorman, Etsy’s director of culture and engagement, in a blog post.
Of the 26 weeks, eight must be taken continuously in the first six month’s a child’s life. “Studies show that early caregiving time is critical for all parents to feel bonded and competent in the long term, and these eight weeks also provide crucial recovery time for mothers who have given birth,” Gorman wrote.
The other 18 weeks may be scheduled as needed over the first two years.
For fathers, in particular, the new Etsy policy exceeds even what they would be offered in many European countries, which are far more generous in terms of parental leave than the United States.
Etsy, which went public last year and now has more than 800 employees across eight countries, identifies itself as a Certified B Corporation, meaning it sees its company mission as having a higher social purpose than just making a profit.
“We’re proud to be a pioneer in building a diverse, inclusive workplace and helping to shape how U.S.-based companies think about parental leave and gender equality,” Gorman said.
Nevertheless, she acknowledges that offering one of the most generous parental leave policies around will make it more competitive in attracting and retaining the best talent in the tech industry, which has pioneered far more generous leave policies than U.S. companies have offered in the past.
And high-profile companies in other industries have started to follow their lead, offering more enhanced parental leave programs.
The latest is Fidelity Investments, which on Tuesday announced it was more than doubling its paid maternity leave to 16 weeks for female employees who give birth. It also tripled its parental leave to 6 weeks for men and women. Men may take parental leave under any circumstance in which they become fathers. Women would take it if they adopt, have a baby by surrogate, or take in a foster child.