Spotify is to offer staff up to six months’ parental leave with 100% pay as part of a global policy it says recognises the importance of “a healthy work-family balance”.
The Swedish company, which launched its music streaming service in 2008 and now has 75 million users, will backdate the policy so that every one of its 1,600 worldwide employees with a child born after 1 January 2013 will be eligible.
Workers will also enjoy a “Welcome back!” programme so that returning staff can “ease back into their job with the ability to work from home, on a part-time schedule and with flexible hours”. Parents at Spotify will be able to take their leave up to the child’s third birthday.
The promise to pay 100% pay for six months is a huge step up from the legal requirement on UK companies. Legislation introduced in April allows parents in the UK to enjoy shared leave for up to 50 weeks but only 39 weeks are paid. Firms are required to pay 90% of a worker’s average weekly earnings before tax for the first six weeks only, then a minimum of £139.58 for the next 33 weeks.
Katarina Berg, Spotify’s chief human resources officer, said: “This policy best defines who we are as a company, born out of a Swedish culture that places an emphasis on a healthy work-family balance, gender equality and the ability for every parent to spend quality time with the people that matter most in their lives.”
The company’s parental leave policy is in striking contrast to practice in the US, the only developed country that does not guarantee paid maternity or parental leave to workers. Pressure to return to work means that on average mothers in the US take only 10 weeks off after having a child, with many returning after just a few weeks.
Spotify said it will guarantee a “retaliation-free environment” to ensure parents take time off without negative consequences at work. It said generous parental leave only works if there is a culture in which employees are encouraged to take time off.
“Our Swedish-inspired culture proves that we do have an environment where a rich time off policy can be successful. This is what differentiates Spotify from other companies, and why we believe employees all around the world will be comfortable [and expected] to take their full parental leave time with the support of their peers, managers and leaders,” said Berg.
The policy comes despite continuing losses from its music streaming business. In 2014 Spotify’s annual revenues passed €1bn (£702m) for the first time, but its income growth came at the cost of a sharp increase in its net losses.
The company’s latest available financial results, published in Luxembourg, reveal revenues rose from €746.9m in 2013 to €1.08bn in 2014 – year-on-year growth of 45%. However, Spotify recorded an operating loss of €165.1m in 2014 compared with €91.2m the previous year, while its net loss nearly trebled from €55.9m in 2013 to €162.3m last year.
This article was written by Rupert Jones and Patrick Collinson, for theguardian.com on Thursday 19th November 2015 19.46 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010