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I was recently made a job offer by a US firm (for our purposes, a sub-50-person tech startup with significant VC support).

I was surprised to see that there was nothing about maternity/paternity leave in the job offer, though the offer was accompanied by a description of benefits (health insurance, 401(k) match, vacation days, etc). Is the absence of maternity/paternity leave in the offer a red flag?

Possible reasons are that I shouldn't expect to see such policies for any American firm below a certain head count; that male employees don't get this in their contracts; or that existing Unpaid leave options are supposed to cover maternity/paternity.

I have the employee handbook, and there is no mention of parental leave of any form.

Open to all advice on the situation. I am unfamiliar with US contracts.

Let me know if further info would be useful.

PS. To be clear, I'm male so I can, perhaps, accept the trade-off of no parental leave. But I have a hard limit of getting basic respect from employers (everything else from this company has been great) and I want to know if American techies think this violates that expectation.

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    I've never seen a job offer from a company of any size that included anything about maternity/ paternity leave. If you're dealing with a large company, the job offer might reference an employee handbook that should have the current leave policy (subject to change at any time). The fact that there is no mention of a policy doesn't mean that it doesn't exist-- if that's something that is important to you, you can certainly ask about the company policy. – Justin Cave Feb 20 at 23:10
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    Below 50 means they don't need to offer FMLA, which is what many companies use for maternity/paternity leave - unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks. – thursdaysgeek Feb 20 at 23:28
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    More information on FMLA: dol.gov/whd/fmla – jcmack Feb 20 at 23:53
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    If that is your real name, I would suggest you use an alias, especially in The Workplace. Do that right now, actually. – RedSonja Feb 21 at 11:48
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    Thanks @RedSonja . This is not my real name. Nor is it linked to my actual name. Good check though! – Mark_Anderson Feb 21 at 18:44
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It's normal to not see the policy in the offer letter, just as it's normal to not see all the details of the health plan, life insurance or 401k. This doesn't necessarily mean your offer doesn't include these benefits. You could certainly ask them directly about the parental leave policy but this could lead to unnecessary speculation about whether you're expecting a new baby in the near future. Instead, I would ask to see a copy of the current employee handbook. This should give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Per your edit, since there's no policy specified in the handbook and this is something you care about, you should probably go ahead and ask. Since it's a small startup, they may not have an official policy. Maybe they don't have any employees with young children so it didn't occur to them to implement a policy.

In any case, I think you're absolutely right to inquire as to their attitude about it. Even if it never becomes an issue for you personally, it says a lot about the company culture. You don’t want to end up working in a sweatshop.

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    +1 You can definitely ask about the full set of employee benefits once you get the offer letter. You want to be able to consider the full benefits package. I've even gone as far as to ask for IVF/infertility coverage. – jcmack Feb 20 at 23:52
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    I have the employee handbook, and there is no mention of parental leave of any form. The only gap in my knowledge is what the health benefits would be (I get to choose one of an unstated list of full med/dental for free). Any chance that maternity leave is a health insurance benefit? – Mark_Anderson Feb 21 at 3:04
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    Unlikely, as maternity leave, wouldn’t be paid by a health provider (it would cover the cost associated with the birth of the baby). Have you asked about parental/maternity leave? – Ramhound Feb 21 at 5:18
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    Absolutely, this!! On average, benefits make up something like 25-35% of a total compensation package in the US. You should never accept a job without being aware of what is/is not included as part of this significant chunk of your pay. – DanK Feb 21 at 12:38
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in the USA, 50 is the magic number for many federal regulations.

Companies with less than 50 employees are exempt from:

The FMLA

The Affordable care act

And there is often less deference given to fathers than mothers, as This article discusses.

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Per your edit, since there's no policy specified in the handbook and this is something you care about, you should probably go ahead and ask. Since it's a small startup, they may not have an official policy. Maybe they don't have any employees with young children so it didn't occur to them to implement a policy.

In any case, I think you're absolutely right to inquire as to their attitude about it. Even if it never becomes an issue for you personally, it says a lot about the company culture.

Quoting a different answer here.

It is perfectly normal to even state in your email that you would like to see what their policy is on things like parental leave, dependency leave, sick leave, flexible working (other statutory rights you might have in the US). Just follow this with, you just want to understand what the company is like towards their employees before you are able to accept the offer. You are making a commitment of 1/3 of your life while you work with them so you want to ensure that this is going to be a place you will be happy and proud to work for.

  • Only 1/3 of your life working for a Tech Startup? HAHAHA – ThoughtPolice84 Feb 27 at 20:03
  • @ThoughtPolice84 on a good day....I mean, if you take into account you only theoretically work 8h a day 5 days out 7, you work less than 1/3 so this already accounts for the extra hours unpaid you will work – fireshark519 Feb 28 at 9:01

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