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Yahoo's New Baby Leave Policy Is Generous. Yours? Not So Much.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
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Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

Hey working moms and dads, just because Yahoo employees are getting more generous parental leave benefits doesn't mean you should expect those perks, too.

Under Yahoo's new policy, new moms who give birth are eligible for up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, with benefits. New dads can get up to eight weeks of paid paternity leave with benefits, according to Yahoo.

The new parents also get $500 to spend on housecleaning and other needs, according to the new policy made public Tuesday.

The policy basically doubles the amount of leave that many new moms who work at Yahoo will receive after pregnancy, according to NBCBayArea.com.

Experts say that kind of paid leave may be available at other top-tier technology companies, but it's a far cry from what most working parents can expect when their bundle of joy arrives.

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"There's no question," said Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center, which does research and advocacy work for working women.

Kenneth Matos, senior director of employment research and practice at the Families and Work Institute, said the benefits for new dads, in particular, are far outside the norm.

"I think it's definitely a step above what a lot of generally men—and in the case of same-sex couples, sometimes women—can expect when their partner has a child," Matos said.

Matos's research shows that only 30 percent of U.S. employers offer paid or unpaid maternity leave that is greater than 12 weeks.

Matos also said that 58 percent of employers who provide maternity leave pay new moms for at least some of that time off. Only 14 percent of employers who provide paternity leave pay for some of the dads' time off, according to the Families and Work Institute data.

Many employers argue that it is cost-prohibitive to provide generous paid leave when their workers have babies. Particularly for low-wage workers, advocates such as Graves said becoming a new parent can be a significant financial and emotional stress.

"You don't want people having to choose between their own economic security (and) having that time to bond and take care of their family," she said.

The United States is an outlier among developed countries because it generally does not require employers to provide paid parental leave. According to Graves, only two states—California and New Jersey—mandate that employers provide paid leave after a worker gives birth.

About 60 percent of U.S. employees are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives parents the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of a child, according to the Department of Labor.

The FMLA benefit is only available to employees who work in an office with 50 or more employees and have worked 1,250 hours in the previous year.

A Census Bureau study released in 2011 found that 51 percent of working women who had their first baby between 2006 and 2008 received some sort of paid leave, such as paid maternity leave, sick leave or vacation.

That's up from 42 percent of first-time working moms who had their first child between 1996 and 2000, according to the Census Bureau.

Yahoo's announcement Tuesday comes after a tumultuous year for the technology company. It has come under fire from work/life balance advocates for nixing telecommuting, and some also criticized new CEO and mom Marissa Mayer for her decision to take a very short maternity leave.

Experts who advocate for more time off for women say they hope Yahoo's move will spur other employers to offer more generous leave policies.

"The more you can make it possible for people to take care of their personal needs during life-changing moments, the easier it is for them to get back to being productive employees as well," Matos said.

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