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No one can say for sure, but the timing, as they say, is suggestive: Just two months after technology giant Yahoo! moved to end all telecommuting arrangements, inadvertently unleashing the dogs of controversy on new CEO Marissa Mayer, the company has unveiled a more generous parental leave policy and other benefits.
Earlier this year, in a policy said to have been handed down by Mayer, the internet giant said that all telecommuting among Yahoo! employees is to end by June, with only occasional exceptions (31 HRR 201, 3/4/13). The announcement set off a backlash against Mayer and a heated debate about the benefits of telecommuting.
Now, Yahoo! has made a much less controversial policy change. “Moms and dads can now take up to eight weeks of paid New Child Leave, with benefits, whenever they welcome a new child to the family. This includes birth, adoption, foster child placement, and surrogacy. New moms can take an additional eight weeks' paid leave after pregnancy,” a Yahoo! spokesperson said in a May 2 email to BNA. Media reports said that that last point represented a doubling of the company's previous benefit.
Other recently introduced or improved benefits for Yahoo! employees, known as “Yahoos” in company-speak, are:
• up to $500 for new parents' laundry, house cleaning, grocery, take-out food, and child care bills;
• “Yahoo!-branded baby gifts for new babies,” as well as for new cats and dogs;
• $500 for adoption fees; and
• up to eight weeks of unpaid leave every time an employee celebrates a multiple of five years working for the company.
“Over the last several months, we've introduced new benefits like free food to make Yahoos' days easier, new smartphones to encourage innovation, and updated computers to speed productivity,” the emailed statement added.
“I really don't know why Yahoo! is doing this extension of paid parenting leave right now, but I suspect it might have something to do with the bad press Yahoo! received around work-family issues when it eliminated telecommuting,” Jennifer Glass of the University of Texas-Austin Department of Sociology & Population Research Center, who has researched telecommuting, said in a May 2 email to BNA.
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