Net­flix launches scheme to give work­ers with new ba­bies year of paid leave


Net­flix is giv­ing new par­ents on its pay­roll up to a year of paid leave in a move that could pres­sure other tech­nol­ogy em­ploy­ers to im­prove their baby ben­e­fits as they vie for tal­ent.

The em­ployee ben­e­fit an­nounced Tues­day on Net­flix’s blog is gen­er­ous even by the high stan­dards of Sil­i­con Val­ley, where free meals and other perquisites sup­ple­ment lav­ish salaries in the fiercely com­pet­i­tive bat­tle for com­puter pro­gram­mers and other tech­nol­ogy work­ers.

“Net­flix’s con­tin­ued suc­cess hinges on us com­pet­ing for and keep­ing the most tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als in their field,” Tawni Cranz, the com­pany’s chief tal­ent of­fi­cer, wrote in the blog post. “Ex­pe­ri­ence shows peo­ple per­form bet­ter at work when they’re not wor­ry­ing about home.”

Google, which con­sis­tently ranks among the best places to work, of­fers 18 weeks of paid ma­ter­nity leave. Par­ents can also take seven to 12 weeks of paid “baby bond­ing” time dur­ing their child’s first year.

The U.S. and Pa­pua New Guinea are the only coun­tries among 185 na­tions and ter­ri­to­ries that hadn’t im­posed gov­ern­ment-man­dated laws re­quir­ing em­ploy­ers to pay moth­ers while on leave with their ba­bies, ac­cord­ing to a study re­leased last year by the United Na­tions’ In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Net­flix’s baby-ben­e­fit pol­icy cov­ers all of the roughly 2,000 peo­ple work­ing at its In­ter­net video and DVD-by-mail ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the Los Gatos, Cal­i­for­nia, com­pany.

Salaries at Net­flix vary widely, ac­cord­ing to Glass­, a web­site where work­ers from a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries share in­for­ma­tion about their com­pen­sa­tion. Pay at Net­flix ranges from about US$15 per hour for cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives field­ing in­quiries from the com­pany’s more than 65 mil­lion sub­scribers around the world to more than US$200,000 an­nu­ally for soft­ware engi­neers.

Most Net­flix em­ploy­ees also re­ceive stock op­tions, which have been pro­duc­ing huge wind­falls in the past few years as the com­pany’s shares have soared. Net­flix’s stock closed Tues­day at US$121.15, nearly 16 times more than its price three years ago.

Net­flix tra­di­tion­ally has long given its work­ers more lee­way than most em­ploy­ers. For in­stance, the com­pany al­ready al­lows em­ploy­ees to take an un­lim­ited amount of va­ca­tion each year, as long as they get their as­sign­ments done and ful­fill other re­quire­ments of their jobs.

Asian De­but in Ja­pan

Net­flix will ex­pand into Ja­pan next month to give the In­ter­net video ser­vice its first pres­ence in Asia. Ja­panese sub­scribers will be able to start watch­ing Net­flix on In­ter­net­con­nected de­vices be­gin­ning Sept. 2.

Net­flix al­ready sells its ser­vices in dozens of other coun­tries out­side the U.S. as part of its am­bi­tion to be avail­able through­out the world by the end of next year.

The costs of the in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion have been hold­ing down Net­flix’s prof­its, but in­vestors haven’t minded be­cause the com­pany has been quickly win­ning over new cus­tomers. Net­flix now has about 65 mil­lion sub­scribers, more than twice as many as it had three years ago.

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