When It’s Inconvient for the Company
Recently, I’ve been working on the parental leave policy for Gruntwork. It’s brought up a bunch of interesting questions like how much time should new parents get once a new child arrives? What will primary caregivers receive vs. secondary caregivers? Do we pay their full salary, or a portion of it?
Gruntwork is a distributed team, with about half of us in the USA and the other half in Europe or Africa, so it’s also been an education in how all the different countries of the world handle parental leave. Did you know that in Germany you can legally take up to 3 years of fully paid parental leave for each child, with your full salary paid by the government? That’s quite a contrast with the USA’s “we only guarantee you’ll have a job when you come back” approach!
In an ideal world, our policy would actually offer something like 3 years fully paid leave, but the reality is that, as a team of 12 people, losing 1 person for 3 years and paying them their full salary just isn’t tenable for us. So we have to constrain. And that’s when you start to enter a world where you make trade offs between how “convenient” a policy is for the business and how well that policy reflects your values.
The truth is that any parental leave is “inconvenient” to the company. In our case, losing one person for 12 weeks means ~10% of our entire team is out for an entire quarter. Their salary will continue to be paid, and it’s just a short enough amount of time that it probably doesn’t make sense to hire someone in their place.
And then there’s the reality of cash positions. We only have so much cash in the bank. If too many people are out on parental leave at the same time and we’re spending their salaries but not able to generate revenue from the typical work they do, then an overly generous parental leave policy has the potential to serve the new parents among us at the expense of the other families who work in the company.
It became clear to me that the most “convenient” thing for a business is to discourage people from having kids altogether by offering a minimal parental leave policy. An approach like that is clearly offensive.
…community kitchen containers