Family Leave: The Gift of Time

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again.” That is especially true during the very special first few months that a parent spends with a child.

After we announced Adobe’s new family leave policies in August, the single most common question I’ve received from industry peers is, “Will employees actually take the time off you’re providing?” At first I was taken aback by the question – what new parents wouldn’t choose to stay home with a child, when they are fully paid?

But I quickly came to realize that there are two realities at many companies, the benefits “on paper” and the benefits in practice. And some other companies have left the parental time-off policy open-ended, which can make it hard for employees to choose the “right” amount for manager and peer expectations.

Today we announced an expansion of our parental leave in India, building on the changes we made in the U.S. New mothers will get 26 weeks off, an increase of up to 14 weeks. Unlike the U.S., India does mandate some time off for maternity leave, and the government is considering an increase. We hope that legislation moves ahead. But in the meantime, we are moving to extend these benefits immediately to our second-largest employee base after the U.S. We hope it will make a positive impact for our working families and advance our diversity efforts as well.

My message to employees in India, the U.S. and any of our other sites around the world is this: Take the time off. Your manager will survive, your coworkers will cover for you, and business will not end. There will always be a critical product launch or customer meeting, but there will only be one time that you bring this new family member home with you. After you’ve taken the time to get everyone – child and parent – off to a healthy start, work will fall back into place and you can hit the ground running.

For employers who may be considering expanding leave programs for their own employees: this is one of the most worthwhile investments in your people you can possibly make. It’s a gift that will mean less stress and exhaustion for your workers; and it’s also a gift to the new child, who will have a parent at home a little longer.

As a culture, let’s all take a step back and remember what matters. Time with family is the best investment we can make.