Yahoo!’s new policy is a huge improvement over most American companies.

By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt (Editor, Women 2.0)

We’re happy to hear that future Yahoo! employees will now get double time off for a new baby. A new mother can take up to sixteen weeks of paid leave and a new father can take up to eights weeks. But as a former Google employee, Marissa Mayer probably knows that better still doesn’t match the best policies in the business.

This new policy may spiff up Mayer’s family un-friendly reputation after her now infamous ban on telecommuting – and it will no doubt attract a talent pool, but other technology companies make it even more comfortable for new parents. According to the New York Times, Google gives new mothers 22 weeks of leave and fathers get seven weeks. Facebook gives new mothers and fathers up to four months of paid leave, and this includes same-sex couples. They also get $4000 in baby cash for each newborn or adopted child. Yahoo! offers a $500 stipend for baby-sitting and housecleaning during the leave, plus a gift basket.

Yahoo!’s new policy is a huge improvement over most American companies. We found this nifty chart of what some of the big companies offer. The Family and Medical Leave Act states that employers and public agencies must provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The problem, however, is nearly half of employees are not eligible because they are independent contractors or can’t afford to take the entire twelve weeks off so they don’t. Basically, the United States is at the bottom when it comes to parental leave.

So Mayer’s move to retain talent, and fix her reputation, is a good one in the larger picture of the American workplace, but in terms of other leading edge tech company’s Yahoo! still could do better.

Women 2.0 readers: What do you consider a good maternity and paternity leave policy?

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt is an editor at Women 2.0 and author and journalist interested in gender politics, working motherhood and the influence of science and technology on culture. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Daily Beast, New York, Vogue, Self, Outside, Wired, and MSN Money. She is the author of In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood (Basic Books, 2009). Follow her on Twitter at @rlehmannhaupt.

Photo credit: Miriam Berkley