Netflix just announced it’s offering
paid leave for new mothers and fathers for the first year after the birth of
adoption of a child. Other high-tech firms are close behind.
Some big law firms are also getting
into the act. Orrick, Herrington Sutcliffe is offering 22
paid weeks off for both male and female attorneys.
Even Wall Street is taking baby steps in the direction of
family-friendly work. Goldman Sachs
just doubled paid parental leave to four weeks.
All this should be welcome news. Millennials
now constitute the largest segment of the American work force. Many are just
forming families, so the new family-friendly policies seem ideally timed.
But before we celebrate the dawn of
a new era, keep two basic truths in mind.
First, these new policies apply
only to a tiny group considered “talent” – highly educated and in high demand.
They’re getting whatever perks
firms can throw at them in order to recruit and keep them.
continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented
individuals in their field,” writes Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s chief talent officer.
Neflix has a “chief talent officer” tells you a lot.
Netflix’s new policy doesn’t apply to all Netflix
employees, by the way. Those in Netflix’s DVD division aren’t covered. They’re
They’re like the vast majority of
American workers – considered easily replaceable.
Employers treat replaceable workers
as costs to be cut, not as assets to be developed.
Replaceable workers almost never get
paid family leave, they get a few paid sick days, and barely any vacation time.
If such replaceables are eligible for 12 weeks of family leave it’s only because the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (which I am proud to
have implemented when labor secretary under Bill Clinton) requires it.
But Family and Medical leave time doesn’t come