Last week, Netflix announced that it would expand its paid family leave policy to give new parents unlimited time off during the first year after the arrival of a new baby. But not all employees will benefit. As the Huffington Post first reported, only salaried employees in the streaming division will get the new coverage; those who work in the DVD segment won’t be included, nor will those working in corporate customer service.
That’s a big disappointment for Jessica, a customer service representative making $13 an hour. She’s currently pregnant and will have a difficult time supporting her other children when her baby arrives. “I will work until I pop,” she told ThinkProgress in an email. “I don’t have a choice.” She has to take time off every so often for pain or sickness related to the pregnancy, but when she does she doesn’t get paid for those hours.
When her baby comes, she plans to take six weeks of unpaid leave and go right back afterward. “Taking even the six weeks off is going to put a strain on my family,” she said. “I will heavily rely on my family for financial assistance during this time but I’m doing everything I can now to not have to do so.”
She and another customer service representative who wished to remain anonymous both said they haven’t received any communication from the company about the new policy, only finding out through news and social media. Netflix could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesperson told the Huffington Post that DVD employees are excluded because it is a separate segment of the business.
Jessica is frustrated by the two-tiered policy. “Of course I think it’s unfair,” she said. “I should get the same perks. Especially for something like this.” That’s why she decided to sign a petition on Coworker.org asking the company to extend the leave to all employees. The petition had more than 7,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
Netflix’s policy mirrors what happens in the rest of the country when it comes to paid family leave. Just 12 percent of people working in the private sector get the benefit at work, but even that is skewed by income. Low-income and part-time workers are even less likely than their higher-income and full-time peers to get paid parental leave. Professional workers are also a lot more likely to get it than people in service jobs.
Jessica knows what can happen without paid leave. She had to take off from previous jobs for her other children but wasn’t given that benefit. “I got written up for taking that time,” she noted. “It was hard.” She is happy to get at least some time from Netflix. “This is the first job I’ve had with any kind of benefits and I’m grateful,” she said.
But she still wants them to go further. “I would love to see a more family oriented surrounding,” she said. “We have many parents on the floor.”
The anonymous employee agreed. “It’s not fair that working directly for Netflix we are not eligible,” she said. She’s currently on maternity leave and will be back at work in October. “Hopefully things have changed by then,” she added.