Net­flix fac­ing protests over baby ben­e­fit ex­clu­sion


Net­flix is get­ting jeered for ex­clud­ing the em­ploy­ees in its DVDby-mail ser­vice from a re­cently in­tro­duced ben­e­fit that gives up to a year of paid leave to most of its work­ers af­ter the birth or adop­tion of a baby.

At least three online pe­ti­tions posted by ac­tivist groups are urg­ing Net­flix to ex­tend the baby ben­e­fit be­yond the roughly 2,000 work­ers in the In­ter­net video ser­vice that gen­er­ates most of its rev­enue.

Net­flix has about 450 tem­po­rary, part- and full-time em­ploy­ees in its steadily shrink­ing but still prof­itable DVD di­vi­sion.

The protest­ing groups con­tend Net­flix is un­fairly fa­vor­ing the mostly high-paid com­puter pro­gram­mers and other tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ists work­ing in its In­ter­net video ser­vice over the lower- paid em­ploy­ees who sort through discs and stuff en­velopes in the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters that re­ceive and send DVDs.

Many of the DVD work­ers are paid by the hour and make a frac­tion of the six-fig­ure salaries doled out to many of the In­ter­net video ser­vice em­ploy­ees. Net­flix pay varies widely, rang­ing from US$15 per hour for cus­tom­erser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives to more than US$ 200,000 an­nu­ally for soft­ware engi­neers, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion shared by com­pany work­ers on em­ployer re­view web­site Glass­

“Net­flix is leav­ing work­ers who could ben­e­fit the most from a gen­er­ous paid leave pol­icy be­hind and that is of­fen­sive,” said Nita Chaud­hary, co- founder of Ul­tra­Vi­o­let, a women’s rights group.

Net­flix says its DVD em­ploy­ees get big­ger pay­checks and bet­ter ben­e­fits than peo­ple in com­pa­ra­ble jobs. “We are regularly re­view­ing poli­cies across our busi­ness to en­sure they are com­pet­i­tive and help us at­tract and keep the best em­ploy­ees,” the Los Gatos, Cal­i­for­nia, com­pany said in a state­ment.

Be­sides Ul­tra­Vi­o­let, the two other groups pres­sur­ing Net­flix about the lim­its on its parental leave pol­icy are: Co­, which fights for work­ers’ rights; and Democ­racy for Amer­ica, a po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by Howard Dean, for­mer chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and a one-time can­di­date for pres­i­dent.

Democ­racy for Amer­ica sent emails Thurs­day urg­ing its mem­bers to chal­lenge Net­flix for dis­crim­i­nat­ing against its DVD work­ers.

“A worker’s abil­ity to care for their fam­ily should not be de­pen­dent on what depart­ment they work in,” wrote Mia Moore, Democ­racy for Amer­ica’s chief of staff.

When it an­nounced its new baby ben­e­fit ear­lier this month to wide­spread ac­claim, Net­flix ini­tially said the pol­icy would ap­ply to all its full-time work­ers. It wasn’t un­til a few days later that Net­flix re­vealed that DVD work­ers would not be el­i­gi­ble, af­ter all.

Although it once was the Net­flix’s fo­cal point, the DVD rental ser­vice has be­come a com­pany af­ter­thought as more house­holds have em­braced the con­cept of stream­ing video over high-speed In­ter­net con­nec­tions. Net­flix now has more than 65 mil­lion world­wide sub­scribers to its In­ter­net video ser­vice com­pared to 5.3 mil­lion DVD cus­tomers — less than half the num­ber that it had three-and-half-years ago.

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