We Can and Will Do Better: Truss on Parental Leave
Truss’s parental leave policy is more or less, this: Parents get eight weeks of paid time off after your kid is born or adopted, as well as four more weeks that can be part-time as you ramp back up into being a working parent.
There’s a lot of detail that I’m leaving out (for example, some enlightened states, like my native California, have subsidies that help offset some of the costs), and the resulting full policy document is actually pretty long to account for compliance details with laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, but that’s the gist of it.
As one of the owners of Truss, I’m embarrassed by this policy; it’s barely enough. I remember my first day back after eight weeks of learning how to be a dad to my twins and realizing that it was 1 p.m. and I was still wearing pajamas. The tech industry may have a lot of problems, but this is a place where the big companies are doing a pretty good job. Facebook, for example, offers 16 weeks for parents. Alas, Truss is a small business and we have small business problems like cash flow; we can’t yet afford everything I think we should have as a high performing and demanding employer.
What it costs us
For us, this program has cost less than $2000/month so far. That’s material for a small business like ours and that’s why we don’t currently offer more; this is what we’re willing to tolerate while the business develops and grows. I think offering less than this is just foolish; if one of our team members is going to have a baby, they should feel cared for and able to recover and return to work in top form. Besides, have you met brand new parents? They are not known for their keen engineering and design problem solving abilities.
Why we do it
Even for folks who aren’t planning on having kids (or who never want kids), parental leave policies are a good canary; our crew knows that if they need help, we’ll do the best we can to support them. For many kinds of things, these are very private conversations. New babies, on the other hand, tend to be announced, doted over, and talked about (yes, we have a #kids Slack channel in addition to the infamous #rage_cage). This means that everybody sees new parents taking leave and sees the company supporting them which at least strongly implies that they will also be supported when they need it.
If you’re in charge at another company and you aren’t offering at least this much, why not? It’s not only the right thing to do, it sends a signal that you give a shit. If you’re working at another company that doesn’t offer at least this much, you should figure out why (and if you don’t like the answer, well... we are hiring, as are many other organizations).
And if you’re offering a better parental leave plan than we do: that’s awesome, keep up the good work. We’ll catch up eventually, and I’m looking forward to offering a policy that I can be genuinely proud of.