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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (GeekWire File Photo)

Amazon has disclosed additional details about the parental leave it offers employees, one of many internal policies the company was criticized for in an article in  The New York Times article that painted the e-commerce giant’s culture as “bruising.”

An Amazon spokesperson tells GeekWire that new mothers at the company are offered eight weeks of paid time off in addition to 12 weeks of unpaid. Fathers, meanwhile, do not receive any paid days off — which is a confirmation of what the NYT reported.

Workers come and go at Amazon's campus in Seattle.
Workers come and go at Amazon’s campus in Seattle.

The company’s maternity leave offering is just so-so, especially when compared to other tech giants. Microsoft, for instance, gives its new mothers four more weeks of paid leave right now and is getting ready to up that in November.

But the lack of paternity leave has been the largest sticking point.

An Amazon spokesperson quoted a statistic that 83 percent of U.S. companies don’t offer paid paternity leave, but the landscape looks a little different when Amazon is compared to its tech industry peers.

By comparison, new fathers receive four weeks of paid leave at Microsoft right now. After November, they’ll get 12 weeks. Google, which was recently ranked as the best place to work for new dads by men’s parenting publication Fatherly, offers at least seven weeks of paid leave — and that’s in addition to other perks like $500 cash for “baby bonding” and five free days of child care.

Other tech giants were also well represented on Fatherly’s complete list, noting paid paternity leave policies at Facebook (17 weeks), LinkedIn (six weeks), Twitter (10 weeks), Yahoo (eight weeks), SAP (six weeks), Salesforce (five weeks), Rackspace (four weeks), TripAdvisor (four weeks), Intuit (two weeks), IBM (two weeks) and Zappos (one week).

Apple wasn’t listed on Fatherly’s report, but The Verge reports the company started offering paid paternity leave when it updated its benefits last year. Walmart, the retail competitor Amazon passed in market cap last month, told the New York Times in 2013 that it offered new fathers two weeks of paid leave. Walmart’s employee benefits page does not describe the company’s current policy.

Jay Carney on CBS This Morning.
Jay Carney on CBS This Morning.

Jay Carney, the former White House press secretary who Amazon recently hired as senior vice president of corporate and global affairs, was asked about the company’s lack of paternity leave during a Monday interview on CBS This Morning.

“I think a lot of companies in the tech sector and around the country are looking at their policies on maternity leave and paternity leave and evaluating them — we sure are,” Carney said.

“If you read the [NYT] article, that little fact is written as something surprising, when in fact it’s consistent with 80 percent of U.S. companies,” he added.

But even Amazon’s policy for new mothers is just average — at a time when most tech giants are known for lavish perks to help them wrestle for talent.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid parental leave. The law in Washington state requires companies to offer 12 weeks of leave — but none of that has to be paid.

Amazon offers a total of 20 weeks off, eight of which are paid. That’s two more than what federal workers receive under changes ushered in under President Barack Obama this year.

Today, Microsoft also offers new mothers 20 weeks of leave, but it pays for 12 of those weeks. When its new policy goes into affect, Microsoft will pay for the full 20 weeks, as well as offer a chance for them to take two more weeks off prior to giving birth.

Microsoft made those changes at the same time Netflix rolled out unlimited parental leave for one year after a child’s birth and Adobe boosted its policy to 26 paid weeks.

Eight paid weeks off for Amazon mothers may be more than the average American worker sees, but it’s certainly not going to be winning over many fans in the tech industry.

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