In the six months following her husband's cancer diagnosis in March 2017, Facebook employee Victoria Ross could focus her attention on caring for him without worries about bills or work deadlines.
Ross's husband, Joshua Barta, who was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, passed away in September 2017. Ross is the benefits operations program manager for Facebook in Austin, Texas and took a total of 14 weeks off from work in 2017, allowing her time to take care of her husband and to grieve after his death.
Generous paid leave and bereavement leave programs at the Menlo Park, California-based company are intended to support caregiver employees like Ross. Ross used leave programs as well as paid time off.
"I could be 100% focused on his treatment and keeping track of everything for him and just enjoy every moment that we had to be together," Ross said. "I wasn't worried about being able to pay our mortgage and our electric bill or anything like that because it was being taken care of by the leave benefits that we have."
Facebook's support of caregiving employees is "part of our overall DNA," said Renee A. Albert, director of benefits at the social media company. "Our benefits programs are branded as Life@ and our whole mission is to make sure we take care of you while you're connecting the world and creating communities."
Caregiver support at Facebook encompasses a variety of programs, from paid leave to online support groups. "We kind of perceive all of our employees being a caregiver at some point," said Albert, who added that she took advantage of Facebook's programs while taking care of her husband, a recent cancer survivor. "It's not a matter of if you're going to be a caregiver, it's a matter of when. Caregiving comes in so many facets, and we tend to forget about that."
"From the beginning we have heavily focused on a time-off program to allow our employees to have time to bond with their new children, including adopted children," Albert said. The company provides 17.4 weeks of paid family leave for new mothers and fathers.
"We also recognize that caregiving may be about a spouse or a partner or even a sick child," she noted. The company provides six weeks of paid leave within a rolling 12-month period that can be used to care for a family member who is ill. The parental and family leave are in addition to 21 days of paid time off and unlimited sick time.
Facebook officials also believe bereavement leave is a caregiver...