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November 25, 2015

Facebook is generous with parental leave – what about Philly companies?

A sampling of leave policies for the Philadelphia area’s biggest employers

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently made headlines when he announced that he will take two months off from work to care for his soon-to-be-born daughter. That’s half of what he could have taken: Facebook offers fathers and mothers up to four months of paid leave, one of the most generous policies in the country.

Do any Philadelphia employers have comparable policies? PhillyVoice looked at the parental leave policies of some of the biggest employers in the city to find out.

First, you should know what every company above 50 employees is required to offer. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 entitles workers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth, fostering or adoption of a child, as long as they have worked at that company for at least a year.

Beyond that, some states have added additional benefits. For example, new parents in New Jersey can get part of their wages back during parental leave thanks to a family leave insurance program. However, Pennsylvania is one of 21 states that offer no additional protections for parents, as a Chatham University report noted.

With that note aside, here are the policies of some organizations among the top 50 employers in Philadelphia:

1. City government

City workers get up to six months of unpaid parental leave, and also have the option to work part-time, according to the city’s Office of Human Resources. Within that, employees not represented by separate union contracts get four weeks of paid leave anytime within a year of adopting or giving birth to the child. However, there must be at a least a two-year interval between leaves.

2. Temple, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania

The city’s big universities all follow the federal law of allowing twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Temple’s policy page and UPenn’s policy page both specified that a mother can take around 6 or more weeks of paid sick leave to recover from the pregnancy, depending on complications. It is unclear if Drexel offers the same or if Temple's policy extends to non-faculty employees. Drexel also offered 26 weeks of unpaid leave for a faculty or professional staff member who is caring for a wounded member of the U.S. military.

3. Independence Blue Cross

The insurance company offers 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, plus a short-term disability benefit for mothers (unless they live in New Jersey and choose to collect that state’s disability benefits instead). “Benefits are paid at 100 percent or 60 percent of the associate’s salary based on years of service for six or eight weeks based on the type of delivery,” said Jeanie Heffernan, Independence’s senior vice president for human resources.

4. Comcast

Comcast employees get the standard 12 weeks off, and mothers may be eligible for six to eight weeks of paid time off through short-term disability benefits. “Comcast offers a number of other benefits to support employees welcoming a new baby, including comprehensive medical benefits, health coaches, free financial planning services, an Employee Assistance Program to help with finding child care and more,” said the company in a statement. A spokesperson also noted that Comcast was named an “Adoption-Friendly Workplace” by the Dave Thomas Foundation.

5. Walmart

As reported in both the New York Times and the New Republic, full-time, salaried management at Wal-Mart get some amount of paid leave. (Wal-Mart did respond to a request for information about lower-ranked associates.) Mothers get up to 18 weeks off, of which 90 days are paid. Fathers get 14 days of paid leave.

6. Wells Fargo

Employees get 12 weeks of unpaid leave, according to the company's employee handbook. They may request a lump-sum payout of all their unused paid time off. In a related news story, however, the company agreed last year to pay a $5 million settlement to the federal government for allegedly discriminating against women who applied for mortgage loans while on maternity leave.

7. PricewaterhouseCoopers

The professional services company has an impressive record for supporting families, which is why it has been recognized as one of the 100 best companies for working mothers and one of the 100 most adoption-friendly workplaces in the country. According to its website, the company offers six weeks of paid leave to new parents (whether they are adopting, fostering or giving birth to a child), or eight weeks if they have more than one new child at once. In addition, employees can get reimbursed for up to $1,000 in emergency childcare services or $6,000 in adoption expenses, and the company has a “Mentor Moms” program to connect working mothers with each other.