Priscilla Chan and her husband, Mark expecting their second daughter. Any new baby is exciting, but when the baby is Facebook royalty, the world listens to what Dad is going to do about the new baby. Zuckerberg says he'll take two months of parental leave when the new baby makes her appearance--one month after the birth and then the month of December. He assures us that "I'm pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back."Zuckerberg, are
I'm pretty sure he will be as well. Parental leave is a hot topic and Facebook actually offers four months of parental leave, causing some people to question why Zuckerberg doesn't use the entire four months of offered leave. I have an answer for that: He doesn't want to.
I'm also going to make an educated guess that Chan doesn't want him to take additional leave either and that they've decided that this is what is best for their family. And with that, the rest of us should shut up.
Every family should choose what works best for them--with the understanding that childbirth should always have some flexibility built into it. If the delivery is smooth and the baby is a good little sleeper (fingers crossed!) then Zuckerberg's plan is perfect: A month to help his wife with recovery, and month, later on, to spend time with the family. If the delivery isn't smooth or the baby is medically fragile, or simply one of those babies that decides sleep is not something she's interested in, then he can adjust his plans. He's the boss. He can do that.
But, that's how we should all approach maternity and paternity leave. Make your plans based on what you think is best for your family and adjust as necessary. Companies should be flexible as well.
Companies that have 50 or more employees are required to provide unpaid time off for moms and dads after the birth or adoption of a baby (or older child) when the employee has worked enough hours in the past year. (Unless both parents work for the same company, in which case the company can require the FMLA total be 12 weeks shared between the two). Companies aren't required to pay employees for this time, and the Pew Research Center says that only 14 percent of non-government workers receive paid paternal leave.
That 14 percent, though, is misleading. 63 percent of mothers said they received paid maternity leave. The difference is that Pew defines paid leave as any pay other than "in addition to any sick leave, vacation, personal leave or short-term disability leave that might be available." In other words, even though I received three fully paid sick days, six weeks of disability pay at 80 percent of my salary, and then took two weeks of vacation at full pay, after the birth of my first child, Pew would count that as unpaid leave. Sure, it would have been nice to be paid for the remaining 11 days of my maternity leave, but I'm not going to count that as unpaid leave.
Surveys shouldn't either. Disability pay is real money and should be counted towards that figure. I agree it stinks to have to use up vacation time to cover a maternity leave, but it's not something I'm going to get worried about. Would I like to see more companies offering paid parental leave? Absolutely, and the companies that want the best employees should do so.
Cato indicates that these numbers also under-count benefits not specifically spelled out in the handbook. Again, with the birth of my own children, I was allowed to switch to part-time after the birth of my first and stayed working part-time until left that company five and a half years later. That's not a direct cash benefit, but it was a benefit to me and my family situation.
Facebook is extremely generous with leave and the flexible application of that. Zuckerberg taking the leave which works for his family is a great example, and all employees--male and female--should feel confident in taking the leave that works for them.