Business

Netflix expands parental leave policy for hourly workers too

Months after expanding parental leave benefits for salaried employees in the high-flying streaming business, Netflix has extended maternal and paternal perks to hourly employees in its less glamorous DVD-by-mail business and elsewhere.

Company had earlier only expanded parental policies for those working in streaming unit, not DVD business

Netflix has extended advanced parental leave policies to hourly employees, but salaried people in the streaming business still get far more generous perks. (Paul Sakuma/File/Associated Press)

Months after expanding parental leave benefits for salaried employees in the high-flying streaming business, Netflix has extended maternal and paternal perks to hourly employees in its less glamorous DVD-by-mail business and elsewhere.

Netflix confirmed on Wednesday that it has updated its parental leave policies for its hourly workers in the streaming business, the DVD business and customer service.

Previously, generous packages of up to a year's parental leave were only available to certain salaried employees.

But now, the company has changed its policy in the following ways:

  • Streaming: 16 weeks for maternity, paternity and adoptions at full pay. Previously, the company didn't cover paid leave for paternity and adoptions. In the past, maternity disability pay was all it covered, at two-thirds pay.
  • DVD: 12 weeks for maternity, paternity and adoptions at full pay. Previously it didn't cover paid leave for paternity and adoptions. In the past, maternity disability pay was all it covered, at two-thirds pay
  • Customer service: 14 weeks for maternity, paternity and adoptions at full pay. In the past, maternity disability was all Netflix covered, at 60 per cent of pay. Previously the company didn't cover paid leave for paternity and adoptions.

"We always look for ways to improve as a company and that means regularly reviewing policies and benefits to ensure we are competitive and can attract and keep the best employees," the company said in a statement. "As we enter 2016, we are enhancing parental leave policies for hourly workers across our streaming, DVD and customer service businesses. This provides them both flexibility and stability at this exciting, yet challenging, time of their lives."

But even with the changes, not all Netflix employees are equal in terms of how much parental leave they are entitled to. The roughly 2,000 salaried workers who work in the headline-grabbing streaming business are still allowed to take off up to a year, with full pay, for parental leave, and still come back to their old jobs.

Still, it's an olive branch to those who work in the part of the business where Netflix began, but is now largely overlooked. Netflix has to pay to retain its top talent in the software division, while the legacy businesses aren't so intensely competitive.

The DVD division also has been steadily shrinking as more people embrace the concept of watching movies and TV shows any time they want on internet-connected devices instead of waiting for a disc to be delivered in the mail.

The company ended September with 5 million DVD subscribers, down from nearly 14 million four years ago.

The disparity highlighted an economic chasm that is opening in Silicon Valley as workers with highly sought technical skills reap six-figure salaries and lavish benefits while people in jobs that require less education and training struggle to make ends meet in one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.

Many of Netflix's roughly 450 DVD workers are paid by the hour and make a fraction of the the salaries of internet video service employees. Netflix pay varies widely, ranging from $15 per hour for customer service representatives to more than $200,000 annually for software engineers, according to information shared by company workers on employer review website Glassdoor.com.

With files from The Associated Press

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