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In 2008, I got a call from Andy Rubin, the former CEO of Android. He wanted my company, The Astonishing Tribe, to design the UI for Google’s first Android phone. So I spent five months commuting between my home in Malmö, Sweden, and Mountain View. During that time my wife became pregnant with our first child. I took six months paternity leave when she went back to work. I also took three months leave after our twins were born.
Netflix announced on Tuesday that it will let employees take unlimited maternity or paternity leave during the first year of their child’s life. Microsoft quickly followed suit by adding a 12-week parental leave program (four paid, eight unpaid), which can be used by either parent, to the existing eight weeks of what they rather disturbingly call "paid maternity disability leave." To Americans, these measures must seem amazingly progressive. To Swedes, not so much.
Swedish parents are entitled by law to a total of 480 days of paid parental leave split between them. Two months of that is reserved for Dads and the Swedish government plans to increase that to three months in 2016. At Netflix, the exact number of days leave you can take is undefined, which means that every case will involve a negotiation. A fixed number of days, as in the Swedish system, seems clearer for both parties. Microsoft’s measure is a good start but, at 12 weeks, strikes Scandinavians as short.
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