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Business

May 5, 2013

Yahoo's expanded family leave mollifies critics of telecommuting ban

Seven months after giving birth and two months after she shook up the tech world by ordering employees to stop working from home, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is now offering female employees 16 weeks of paid maternity leave while new dads get eight weeks of paid leave.

For a couple working at Yahoo, the change in policy means new Yahoo mothers and fathers could have a combined six months of paid time off to bond with their new babies. They’ll even get four months off combined for babies they adopt or foster.

Yahoo’s new company perks include free Yahoo gifts for both babies and pets and reimbursements for employee laundry and housekeeping costs. But the maternity and paternity policies announced Tuesday especially pleased Mayer watchers who shook their heads after she ended telecommuting and ordered employees back into the office.

“I was quite concerned when the initial policy around working at the office came out that they were going to take a step backward in support of women,” said Marilyn Nagel, CEO of Watermark, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based nonprofit group that supports women in their careers and in their communities.

“This current new list of programs and benefits is a step in the right direction because we know that women tend to leave their jobs if there is not flexibility or other benefits to support them. The fact that Marissa is looking at other options suggests that she has done some research and is really looking to move Yahoo forward, in contrast to that other position that took Yahoo backward a bit.”

Yahoo’s new policies for parents are hardly the best in Silicon Valley, which constantly seeks to attract and retain the brightest tech workers.

For instance, Google, where Mayer worked before joining Yahoo, offers up to 22 weeks of paid leave for its new mothers, among several other perks for expectant Googler mothers such as premium parking while they’re pregnant.

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