Parents Got More Time Off. Then the Backlash Started.
With its offices scheduled to remain closed until at least October and schools restarting online in California, Facebook said in August that the leave policy would remain in place through June 2021 and that employees who had already taken some leave this year would be afforded another 10 weeks next year.
That angered some nonparents. A few wrote openly about how isolated they felt, living alone and not seeing anyone for weeks at a time. The company, they said, seemed less concerned about their needs.
Facebook said all employees could take up to three days to cope with physical or mental health issues without a doctor’s note. It separately offers 30 days of emergency leave for all employees if they need to care for a sick family member. In addition, all Facebook employees receive an unlimited number of sick days and receive at least 21 vacation days a year.
“We’ve added more support for all of our employees and encourage everyone to have open discussions about the challenges they’re facing,” said Liz Bourgeois, a company spokeswoman. “In too many workplaces, trying to hide the added difficulties of caregiving or well-being is yet another burden people have to carry, and we don’t want that to be the case at Facebook.”
Resentment from employees without children about extra parental benefits existed at companies before the pandemic, of course. But the health crisis has amplified that tension. Parents who had normally been able to balance work and home are struggling to help their children learn remotely while still doing their jobs.
In a July survey of 1,700 people conducted by ZipRecruiter, a job-listing and recruiting sites, parents said that if schools did not reopen at all this fall, the number of hours they could work would be reduced. Mothers said their working hours would be reduced 9 percent, while fathers said their time would go down 5 percent.
It is a difficult situation for everyone, but “for people to get upset enough to say that ‘I feel this is unfair’ demonstrates a lack of patience, a lack of empathy and a sense of entitlement,” said Laszlo Bock, Google’s former head of people operations, or human resources. He is now the chief executive of the start-up Humu, which aims to help companies manage employees more effectively.