By Chris Isidore

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) –– IBM is doubling the amount of paid leave that new parents get, and making the policy retroactive for parents whose children were born after November, 2016.

Both mothers and fathers will now have 12 weeks of paid leave, up from six weeks under the previous policy. Mothers who give birth get an additional six to eight weeks off under medical disability coverage.

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Parents have up to a year to take the leave, with extra flexibility for scheduling the additional time off for employees whose children were born months ago.

“The market is changing and we’re watching what other companies are doing,” said said Barbara Brickmeier, vice president of benefits at IBM. “It’s important to keep women in the work force.”

She added that the additional benefits were also in response to requests from employees.

IBM is also beefing up a number of other benefits for parents. It is increasing financial assistance for parents adopting children to up to $20,000 to cover those costs, from the previous $5,000 benefit, and it is making that benefit available to parents who use a surrogate to have a child.

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Additionally, it’s expanding a program for mothers who are traveling abroad for work to let them ship breast milk home for free using temperature-controlled packaging. Previously the program was available only to mothers traveling within the U.S.. Employees based in some foreign countries also will be able to use the program for the first time.

The extended leave policies apply to both full-time and part-time U.S. employees. The company has 380,000 employees worldwide, but does not disclose how many are based in the United States.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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