When it comes to paid time off for new parents, the U.S. comes in last place among the 41 countries that comprise the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED). The government does not mandate any paid leave for parents, and as of March 2016, only 13 percent of all private industry workers had access to paid family leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the race for top talent, several U.S. tech companies have led the way on this issue, boosting their parental leave policies in recent years. Twitter, for instance, offers 20 weeks of paid leave to all new parents, and Facebook provides four months to full-time employees.
More than most, Amazon has been on the cutting edge. The retail behemoth not only offers a generous paid parental leave policy for both moms and dads, it also helps parents ramp back up after being out and even pays for its employees' spouses who do not work at the company to take time off.
The company's latest parental leave policies were launched in 2015 after employees said the previous policy wasn't working for them.
"It wasn't comprehensive enough, didn't give new parents enough time with their children and often the transition back to work was difficult," says Steve Winter, Amazon's director of global programs and services, who led the redesign. "So HR looked into ways to improve it. We wanted to build an egalitarian program that would work for all of our employees."
Two years ago, Amazon began offering birth mothers up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, plus an additional six weeks to those who've been with the company for a year. Altogether, that's a total of 20 weeks, or about five months, of fully paid leave that moms can potentially take.
"The first few weeks are critical," says Liz Swanby, an operations manager at Amazon who welcomed her son almost three years ago. She points to small moments like a child's first bath.
"You don't get that time back," she tells CNBC Make It.