Facebook announces paid family sick leave and new bereavement benefits for employees

On her personal Facebook account Tuesday, COO Sheryl Sandberg announced an update to the company’s employee benefits, which are newly enhanced to ease the lives of new parents and grieving employees alike.

Sandberg noted that the decision intends to lead the charge for policies that help new parents as well as families that are grieving the loss of a loved one. In the post, Sandberg noted her own experience as a mother and the “nightmare” surrounding the unexpected death of her husband in shaping her perspective.

“Starting today, Facebook employees will have up to 20 days paid leave to grieve an immediate family member, up to 10 days to grieve an extended family member, and will be able to take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a sick relative,” Sandberg writes. “We’re also introducing paid family sick time – three days to take care of a family member with a short-term illness, like a child with the flu.”

Facebook currently offers four months of paid leave for new parents, moms and dads alike. That puts the company on the leading edge of the curve, given that the U.S. consistently ranks in the bottom by most measures of paid parental leave, though some states are taking measures to change that.

For all of the criticism the industry faces around issues of diversity and inclusion, which it for the most part still hasn’t figured out, tech has blazed some notable trails in employee benefits. Though that might conjure images of nap pods and well-stocked cereal selections, in recent years tech companies have moved to make their full-time worker benefits some of the most robust around. Those same protections rarely extend to contract workers and anyone working that sharing economy hustle, but they’re certainly a solid start.

In 2015, Amazon responded to intense criticism around its implementation of maternity leave (among many other corporate culture red flags) by reworking its policies. A few months later, Netflix introduced unlimited parental leave, though unlimited leave, like unlimited vacation, doesn’t always live up to its name. And of course, Mark Zuckerberg publicly committed to his own company’s parenting policies by taking two months off from running Facebook after the birth of his daughter Max.

For the rest of the context for Facebook’s new policies, Sandberg’s full post is embedded below.