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Elena Donovan Mauer
Contributing Writer

Yahoo Maternity Leave Gets A Boost — How Does It Compare To Yours?

PUBLISHED ON 05/01/2013

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer sparked controversy earlier this year, when she announced that her company's employees would no longer be able to work from home. That's so anti-working-parent, people thought. But yesterday, Mayer made an announcement that may have people thinking her workplace is more family friendly: Maternity and paternity leave has been extended.

"Under the new policy, mothers can take 16 weeks of paid leave with benefits, and fathers can take up to eight weeks, each time they have a new child via childbirth. Both parents receive eight weeks of paid leave for new children via adoption, foster child placement or surrogacy," reports  NBC Bay Area. This is about double the maternity leave the company's old policy allowed. This may allow Yahoo to better compete with nearby tech companies Google and Facebook for talent. Google offers 18 to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave, and Facebook offers four months of paid leave to both mothers and fathers.

So, is this normal? Well, no, it's not. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Women's Health USA 2011 report, the average length of maternity leave was 10.3 weeks, and only 24.9 percent of women had paid maternity leave for more than two months. In fact almost one-third (29.4 percent) didn't take any maternity leave, and 33.1 percent of those who took it didn't have any portion of their leave paid.

In the US, companies are required by law to hold a parent's job for 12 weeks after the birth of a child, but that's only if the company and employee both qualify under the Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA). For example, if your company has fewer than 50 employees or you've worked for the company for less than 12 months, you wouldn't qualify. And, none of those 12 weeks are required to be paid. How much you're paid for depends on your employer's policies.

So there's quite a range, as working moms on The Bump message boards demonstrate:

"I took 12 weeks which was as much as was allowed by my employer. 6 weeks were paid. However I did just hear that our maternity policy changed and now they are paying the full 12-week period. So when I'm out this September with baby #2 it will be paid for. Yay!" — RedDDD

"I will take eight weeks off. I work for a small company and don't qualify for FMLA. I negotiated it with my employer up from six weeks. I will have four weeks paid, made up of two weeks vacation and two weeks paid maternity leave. I am the first in my company to have a baby and two weeks paid maternity and paternity leave is now written into our company policy. I am proud to be a part of that added benefit." — jlaOK

"I took two weeks before birth and 20 afterwards. This is two weeks beyond my company's maximum policy. An exception was allowed since I had a huge vacation balance and the last two weeks fell during the holidays which are slow for us. The company fully paid my salary for the two weeks before and I had a combination of Short Term Disability and pay (for a total of my whole salary) for 12 weeks after birth. I was then able to use sick and vacation pay for weeks 13 through 20." — whynotwhynot

"I am taking six weeks off and then going back part time for six weeks. Then I'll be working from home two or three days a weeks and in the office either two or three days a week. It will all be paid, thank god." — JNLSLSM

"I took six weeks with my first child and five weeks with my second. I needed the money, so I returned to work. Besides, both times, my employer called or emailed me while I was off, and I worked from home anyway. Four weeks was paid at 60 percent of my salary. The other two weeks were unpaid." — LoCarb

"I took the 12 weeks allowed under FMLA. They wouldn't hold my job any longer than that. I received four weeks of Short Term Disability pay at 60 percent of my wages." — financial diva

"All in all I took six-and-a-half months. I did a lot off research and the other people in my company who had taken maternity leave said seven months is the max. 16 weeks were paid." — Brendamndz

"I took 13 weeks off. The plan was 12, but my daughter came early. I'm a teacher, and I had to give a specific date that I could come back, so they could put a substitute on contract. 10 days were paid — five were sick days and five were childbirth leave. The rest was unpaid." — dizzykates

How much maternity leave did you take or do you plan to take? Do you think more companies should extend their maternity leave, like Yahoo did?