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Company Perks Keep Getting Nicer, But Only for Some Workers

A few elite companies battle to offer the most enticing perks, while much of the workforce still lacks paid maternal leave or vacation time.

At Seattle-based real estate website Zillow, new moms traveling for work can have their breast milk shipped on the company's dime. Consulting company Accenture will pay for employees to have gender reassignment surgery. Twilio, a messaging service based in San Francisco, gives workers free Kindle tablets and a $30 subscription to purchase books.

These are some of the perks enjoyed by the working elite, according to Glassdoor's list of the top 20 companies for employee benefits and perks, released on Wednesday. 

QuickTake Family Leave

The list, based on the hundreds of thousands of benefits reviews shared by employees on Glassdoor since August 2014, highlights companies with unique perks, in addition to the usual generous vacation policies and free meals. Netflix ranks highest for its announcement last summer of unlimited parental leave. Facebook and Pinterest also get high ratings from employees for their respective parental leave policies. Facebook gives new parents $5,000 in baby cash. Pinterest offers parents three months’ paid leave, plus an additional month of part-time hours and two counseling sessions to help with reentering the workforce.

Employers of a certain caliber have started tacking on distinct and coveted benefits to attract talent in a competitive hiring market. "Benefits and perks certainly matter to job seekers and employers, mostly in the recruiting game," said Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor. "Employers are finding ways to be competitive; they're finding added pieces of the puzzle to give job seekers and employees." Last year not only saw the rise of expanded paid leave policies, but new benefits, like student debt repayment

But what's happening at the top doesn't reflect reality for many American workers. "There totally is a gap," said Dobroski. 

Spending on benefits has outpaced wage growth since 2005, but that trend is mostly limited to companies with more than 500 workers, and workers with high-skill white-collar and union jobs. While the top companies try to out-benefit each other with family-friendly policies, only 21 percent of companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management offer paid maternity leave, according to its annual benefits survey. Airbnb, also on Glassdoor's list, gives its employees a $2,000 stipend to go on vacation. Yet a quarter of the civilian workforce gets no paid vacation time, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 

"The shift toward benefits is clustered among American workers with the strongest bargaining power in the economy," wrote Glassdoor's chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain, in a blog post last month. Workers in retail and food services, some of the most common occupations in America, have not seen a benefits surge. 

Most workers still covet more basic company offerings. "Even though these are flashy benefits, the No. 1 benefit that people still want most is health-care insurance," said Dobroski. 

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