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Amazon adds paternity leave policy, improves maternity leave for full-time employees

Amazon just announced a new family leave policy that gives new fathers paid time off for the first time in the company's history, The Wall Street Journal reports. New birth parents or adoptive parents who have worked for the company for at least a year will receive six weeks of paid leave, regardless of gender. The revised policy also improves paid leave time for new birth mothers, who can now take up to 20 weeks off, including the month preceding the birth of a child.

Six weeks off, regardless of gender

The move, probably not unintentionally, comes at a time when Amazon could stand to look good in the public eye. The company has recently come under fire for its harsh and obsessive workplace environment, thanks to a report in The New York Times this summer. Still, even if this is a PR move by Amazon to shift public perception, paid time off for new parents is still a very good thing. Paid leave for new fathers has been shown to benefit new mothers as well, and paternity leave is a tangible response to the idea that child-rearing is a gendered job.

All full-time salaried and hourly employees will be entitled to take advantage of Amazon's new policy. Under a "leave-share" policy, new parents will be able to share a portion of their six-week leave with their partners if those partners are unable to get paid time off, according to the WSJ.

Amazon's new policy follows similar announcements by big tech companies like Microsoft, Netflix, and Adobe, all of which recently significantly improved their family leave policies. And it's significant that huge, extremely wealthy companies are taking steps to improve work-life balance for new parents, especially because the US is still the only developed country in the world that doesn't federally mandate paid maternity leave.