Apple just announced a new policy for parents returning to work after having a baby. Now, four weeks after returning from paid parental leave, new parents will have the option of working part-time with full-time pay. The company, like many other successful tech giants, already provides at least 16 weeks of paid leave to birth parents. But this policy could help ease the transition so coming back to work isn’t such a shock.
Apple talked with families about the challenges they faced after birth. That’s why Apple executive Deirdre O’Brien encouraged the company to do more to help address these issues.
“What we find a lot of times is people are really excited to get back to work,” O’Brien, head of retail and human resources, told Fast Company. “At the same time, [they] feel like they need to make sure things are really stable and successful at home. And that weighs heavy on people’s minds, I think.”
This four-week transition period will afford new parents a lot more flexibility. Employees will be paid full-time wages, but can set their own hours (with manager approval) and work part-time. This doesn’t just apply to birth parents — foster parents, those who adopt or take in foster children can take part in this benefit, too. For non-birth parents though, full paid leave is only six weeks. And the new Apple parental leave policy isn’t just for headquarters employees, it’s available to all retail workers, who account for nearly half of Apple’s employees.
As part of the changes, Apple is expanding leave for adoptive parents by four weeks, and almost tripling financial assistance for families that choose to adopt. For some families, adoption can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apple will discount that by $14,000.
Apple’s working on other benefits, as well, especially mental wellness. The company recently doubled the number of free counseling sessions employees can attend annually, and is offering telehealth options for more flexibility.
This is just one part of a growing trend among 21st-century companies to give employees more flexibility. There’s still a long way to go, but Apple is helping make clear that people shouldn’t have to choose between work and family.
“I think many times working parents feel like they need to deal with that quietly and make it seem perfectly seamless,” O’Brien told Fast Company. “We all know life is complicated. So we’re making it really clear that we’re supporting them in that journey.”