Nikita Richardson
August 05, 2015 10:03 am

There are plenty of reasons Netflix is a great streaming platform. Whether that be because it’s the home of all that high-quality original programming we can’t get enough of (Wet Hot American Summer, OINTB, BoJack Horseman, House of Cards, etc.) or the fact that millions of young people now live in a world where they can watch classic ’90s television (read: Friends, The X-Files and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer) at a moment’s notice.

But Netflix is also a great company, with a leadership team that seems to care deeply about its employees. Yesterday, the video streaming site announced via its company blog that in addition to unlimited time off, it’s making a major change to its employment policy: Starting now, new parents may take “unlimited” maternity and paternity leave.

“Today we’re introducing an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption,” wrote Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer. “We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances.”

This is a major step forward in the ongoing movement to make it easier for parents to be present for their child’s first year of life. As John Oliver pointed out in the Mother’s Day episode of Last Week Tonight, the U.S. policy on maternity and paternity leave notoriously short changes new parents, offering only 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the arrival of a new child.

“40% are not covered by the federal law,” added Oliver. “This is not how it’s supposed to work. Mothers shouldn’t have to stitch together time to recover from childbirth the same way that we plan four-day weekends in Atlantic City . . . for many women, the current situation forces them to return well before they want to.”

Depressing as the “current situation” is, there is some hope on the horizon — and not just for employees of multi-billion dollar startups. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has faced her share of postnatal discrimination, is making a second attempt to get Congress to pass the FAMILY Act, which would “establish a national, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave insurance program, ensuring that American workers would no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a family member.”

“When a young parent needs time to care for a newborn child – it should never come down to an outdated policy that lets her boss decide how long it will take – and decide the fate of her career and her future along with it,” said Senator Gillibrand in a statement on the legislation. “Choosing between your loved ones and your career and your future is a choice no [one] should have to make.”

Starting now, employees at Netflix will not have to make that choice when it comes to caring for a new baby. If we weren’t already committed to Netflix for life, we certainly are now.

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[Image via Shutterstock]

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