Inflation is sky-high globally. As prices soar, individuals are struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month.
It is the responsibility of employers to step up and look after their workers amid high inflation and the cost of living crisis. At the end of the day, workers who are worried about their finances and paying their bills are not going to be productive at work.
Telecoms giant Virgin Media O2 is the latest employer to decide to give its employees a cost of living bonus. It is also dialing up its financial wellbeing support for workers amid a looming recession and sky-high inflation.
The company has announced it will give all employees who earn £35,000 or less annually a £1,400 bonus. The first installment of £400 will be paid out in November, followed by another £400 in January.
Then employees will be given £100 a month until July 2023 to support them amid sky-high inflation and a cost of living crisis.
Inside the new D,E&I policies at Virgin Media O2
Virgin Media O2’s cost of living bonus announcement came at the same time as it updated its diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, All In, which was launched earlier this year. The employer has worked with Equity Sequence on the development of the new policies to ensure they are equitable and inclusive.
First of all, Virgin Media O2 has increased its maternity, paternity and adoption leave – now employees will be eligible for 26 weeks paid maternity and adoption leave, and 14 weeks paternity leave. Statutory minimum paid paternity leave in the UK is just two weeks.
In addition, the telecoms employer has introduced 10 days for pregnancy loss, and 12 weeks of paid neonatal leave (on top of their paid parental leave benefits) for those whose babies are born prematurely or sick.
Virgin Media O2 is also introducing five days carer’s leave in partnership with Carers UK – this can be taken flexibly as ten half days if that is better for the employee who is also a carer.
Talking about the announcements, CPO Philipp Wohland commented: “Virgin Media O2 is proud to be a leading UK employer and we’re stepping up for our people when they need us.
“We’re supporting our employees most affected by the rise in the cost of living with a payment of £1,400 to help them through the difficult months ahead.
“Coupled with an earlier pay uplift and bonus this represents an overall above-inflation increase for many of our people.
“Our new best-in-class leave policies will support all our employees – including LGBTQ+ families, and we’re proud to be one of the first UK businesses to offer both carer’s leave and neonatal leave, so that our people have the flexibility to be there for their loved ones when it counts.”
These news policies are definitely a step in the right direction, particularly around pregnancy loss and carer leave, but Virgin Media O2’s parental leave policies still lag behind the likes of NatWest, Aviva and its telecoms competitor Vodafone.
NatWest recently introduced equal parental leave irrespective of gender, while Vodafone has offered 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave to any new parents since 2019.
Want to learn more about Virgin Media O2’s workplace? Its director of people technology and analytics Beatriz Jaén Caparrós and director of organizational effective Dean Bonas are speaking at UNLEASH World in Paris (12-13 October). Find out more info about tickets here.