Tech firms race to embrace parental leave

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There has been a kind of arms race inside the technology industry in recent months to see which company can offer the most paid maternity and paternity leave — an issue closely watched in Washington. 

Just last week, Spotify announced that it would offer up to sixth months of parental leave to its employees. 

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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said he would take two months off after his daughter is born — combatting one criticism that huge opportunities for leave are of no use if employees feel pressure not to take advantage. 

“This is a very personal decision, and I've decided to take 2 months of paternity leave when our daughter arrives,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post last week, noting his company offers up to 12 weeks. 

Half a dozen tech companies over the past few months have announced generous family leave packages for their employees. In additional to creating sympathetic headlines, the offerings are see as necessary as the companies compete for talent. 

Netflix set off the headline trend in August when it announced an unlimited parental leave policy for the first year after a child’s birth or adoption. Adobe followed by offering up to 16 weeks, while Microsoft offers up to 12 weeks. Both offer expanded time off for mothers. 

In November, Amazon, which was battling reports over its alleged cutthroat work environment, changed its policy to offer up to six weeks for new fathers for the first time. New mothers are offered up to 20 weeks.

The news has not been lost on politicians. President Obama’s adviser, Valerie Jarrett, was on hand during Spotify’s announcement, in order to promote the administration’s push to mandate paid leave. 

"The fact that the U.S. is the only developed country without a paid leave policy doesn’t make sense," she said

Democrats pounced on Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanMichigan Dems highlight Flint with unanimous opposition to CR Congress departs for recess until after Election Day House votes to delay Obama's overtime rule MORE (R-Wis.) when last month he said he did not want to sacrifice time with his family in order to fundraise across the country in his new job. 

“That’s why Dems are fighting for paid sick time, family leave & schedules that work — bills that your party repeatedly blocks,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Clinton is 'acutely aware' of Trump's voter appeal on trade Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Brent Budowsky: Sanders and Warren shine MORE (D-Mass.) told Ryan at the time. 

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, certain workers can take up to 12 weeks of parental leave, but it is usually unpaid. It is also only mandated for people who have worked at a job for more than 12 months, which has at least 50 employees. 

Democrats have introduced legislation to create a fund that would offer paid leave for more workers. Republicans have responded with their own bills that would allow workers to user their overtime toward paid time off.