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Facebook extends bereavement, family sick leaves for employees

COO. Sheryl Sandberg speaks onstage during The 2017 Makers Conference Day 2 at Terranea Resort on February 7, 2017 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Sandberg photo by Emma McIntyre/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook chief operating officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg announced on Tuesday, February 7 (February 8, Manila time), that the company will be giving 6 weeks of "paid family leaves" for employees who need to care for an ailing family member. 

Adding to that, employees who need to care for a family member with a short-term illness will be given an additional 3 days of paid leaves, and 20 days of bereavement leave, double the previous number.

Sandberg – whose husband died after suffering head trauma caused by falling off a treadmill during a vacation in Mexico in May 2015 – said that the issue was personal.

"This is personal for me. I lost my husband very suddenly. Facebook provided leave and flexibility, and now we’re doing more," Huffington Post quoted the Facebook executive who made the announcement at the Makers conference in California.

You can read the full announcement on Sandberg's Facebook post, embedded below:


Parental leave

In late 2015, Facebook made another stride forward by extending paid parental leave to 2 months for both mothers and fathers.

The policy update aimed to give fathers and people in same-sex relationships a chance to bond with their new baby – whether biological or adopted.

Here is the announcement as posted by Lori Matloff Goler, vice president of people at Facebook:

Benefits war

Facebook's leave benefits are considered to be very generous, especially in the US which does not have mandatory paid maternity leaves and sick leaves. With the newly announced leaves, Facebook gets a leg up over other tech companies in Silicon Valley, which is currently embroiled in a benefits war. 

The move is also seen as groundbreaking for acknowledging that employees have many different life needs that companies can address. Facebook is in position to blaze a trail not just because of its progressive mindset but also because of a financial standing that is able to accommodate the said privileges. (Read: Facebook earns $3.7-B in last quarter of 2016)

At the conference, Sandberg urged other companies in a similar position to offer similar benefits and called for government mandates that will raise the bar for employee care. 

In a Facebook post, Sandberg stressed the need to care for their workforce: 

"People should be able both to work and be there for their families. No one should face this trade-off. We need public policies that make it easier for people to care for their children and aging parents and for families to mourn and heal after loss. Making it easier for more Americans to be the workers and family members they want to be will make our economy and country stronger." 

PH House Bill 4113

In the Philippines, there is a call for change regarding granting mothers more leave time to spend with their newborn children.

In 2016, a bill seeking to increase the paid maternity leave to 100 days was approved by the House committee on women and gender equality.

House Bill 4113 or the “100-Day Maternity Leave Law” also includes an option for female employees in the government or private sector to seek an additional 30-day leave without pay.

President Rodrigo Duterte also expressed his support for this proposed extension saying, "I agree that you need a longer period of rest for maternity leave. Gusto ko nga isang taon eh (I even want it to last for a year)."

He added that he is only waiting to sign the papers that would extend maternity leaves in the country, which currently allows only 60 to 78 days. Fathers, on the other hand, are allowed up to 7 days of paid paternity leave.

Tell us what other workplace benefits you would like to see updated on X. – with reports from Angelo Gonzales and Nile Villa/