Yahoo boosts maternity leave

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Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer famously returned to work just two weeks after having a baby last September, but she’s making sure other new moms get much longer.

The California-based tech company will give mothers up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, which also applies to adoption, foster child placement, and surrogacy, and fathers are entitled to eight paid weeks. New parents will also get a $500 cash bonus for things like child care and groceries, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

Previously, Yahoo did not provide paid paternity leave and its maternity leave varied from state to state.

The company last made the news in February when it announced it was ending work-from-home options for its 11,000 staff.

"Marissa Mayer probably found that intentionally or not her policies had created terrible morale. She has learned from it. And wow, she's like the parent who says, 'No you can't have ice cream, but I'm buying you a pony'," Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More Magazine, told NBC.

It’s like to be a drawcard for new employees, and a loyalty boost for current staff, because the US maternity leave rules vary from state to state, with some having no mandated minimum.

Yahoo competitor Google, which was Mayer’s former employer,  offers 18 to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave, and up to seven weeks of paid paternity leave.

While it’s still less than what is required by Canadian provincial minimums, the extension holds lessons for Canadian employers, who can improve their retention rates among new mothers by ensuring they meet needs beyond the financial, including flexible hours and personal days.

Statistics Canada reports that employers who offered top-ups and other support during maternity leave had a much higher rate of return to work. In 2008, of all mothers with a paid job before childbirth, 96% with a top-up returned to the same employer compared with 77% of mothers with EI/QPIP benefits and no top-up, and 46% of mothers without any benefits.

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