Will the New Yahoo Maternity Leave Policy Shift the Baseline for Other Organizations?

It’s been a whirlwind year for Marissa Mayer since stepping into her new shoes as Yahoo!’s CEO last fall. Mayer’s October 2012 decision to return to work after just two weeks’ maternity leave – a move that parents feared would set a negative precedent in an already work-first society – launched a rocky start with the media. She again rattled the news cycle in February 2013 when she bluntly recalled teleworkers to the office if they wanted to continue their tenure with the company. On May 1, she once again thrust the company into the spotlight by unveiling a new corporate Yahoo maternity leave policy – though this time, her news resonated a bit more positively with the public.

The new Yahoo maternity leave policy allows new moms a full 16 weeks of paid leave, rather than the eight paid weeks previously allotted. New dads also receive eight weeks paid paternity leave, as do new adoptive parents – both fully new benefits, as previously these two parent groups received no paid leave. Additionally, new parents will receive a $500 baby bonus to help with babysitting, housecleaning, or other baby-related expenses.

The new Yahoo maternity leave policy.

Opponents of the new Yahoo maternity leave policy note that giving employees that much time off is a costly expense that many organizations cannot afford. Small organizations may not have the bandwidth to cover an employee taking extended leave, putting their organization’s work quality and productivity at risk. However, for organizations looking to boost employee loyalty and retention, paid parental leave can be a powerful benefit.

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