Patagonia, an outdoor gear and clothing company, is making a buzz around the internet. Parenting and news sites are reporting and talking about its 100 percent retention rate for moms -- or how all of Patagonia’s new mom employees have, over the past five years, returned to work after giving birth. How did they manage it? With a generous parental leave policy and an excellent on-site daycare a.k.a. a parent’s dream come true.
Parents at Patagonia don’t have to choose between family or career as the company has gone above and beyond any other to provide parents the benefits and opportunities to strike a healthy balance.
New moms working at the company get 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave, and new dads and adoptive moms get 12 weeks fully paid leave, according to Quartz. These are available to all employees who have worked for the company for at least nine months. When the parents come back to work, Patagonia’s day care will be there to make sure their children are taken care of during work hours.
The on-site day care is run by teachers, some of whom are bilingual and trained in child development. Learning is done both indoors and outdoors as the facility is rich in both space, play equipment and greenery. Day care activities include field trips to the beach and library, building things in the yard and cooking in what they call the “messy kitchen.”
In the morning, parents drive to work with their kids and drop them off at the day care. And, during breaks, they walk a few steps to the day care and spend time with their kids who have been learning and having fun all day. Parents can eat lunch with their kids, play at the day care grounds together, take them to Patagonia’s farmer’s market (yes, they have one) and pick vegetables with them in the day care’s garden. As the day care accommodates babies to preschoolers, nursing moms don’t have to pump at work, too. They can just pop down the day care and breastfeed.
There's more. For parents with school-age children, Patagonia has a bus that picks them up from school and drops them at the office where they can hangout while they wait for mom or dad to get off work. And if the parents have to travel for work, the company allows the child and another caregiver (if no one is available, a teacher from the day care can come) to tag along. And, get this, Patagonia foots the bill.
Why is Patagonia’s parental benefits so amazing? It’s thanks to company head Yvon Chouinard, recently profiled by The New Yorker. In its early years, Patagonia was composed of a team of Chouinard’s friends. As the company grew, so did the families of all the people who worked there. Chouinard then recognized the need for benefits and programs for his friends and employees. If only it was that simple for all the rest of the companies too, right, parents?
In the Philippines, the law mandates a maternity paid leave of 60 days for new moms who have given birth via normal delivery. For C-section moms, paid leave is 78 days. Paternity leave, on the other hand, is considerably shorter at just seven days.
Two bills are in the pipelines to improve these benefits. Just this month, a bill expanding maternity leave to 100 days was approved by the House committee, and has already passed initial readings at the Congress and Senate. Another bill, filed in July, is seeking to increase maternity leave to 150 days but is still with the Senate. Cross your fingers for both.