This week, UK retail bank NatWest announced it would be changing its parental leave policies.
From January 2023, all new parents working at NatWest in the UK, irrespective of their gender, will be able to take off a whole year (52 weeks) – half of which (26 weeks) will be fully paid, with an additional 15 weeks being covered at statutory maternity or paternity pay rates.
This benefit is available to new parents; it doesn’t matter whether the child arrived through birth, adoption, or surrogacy, or whether they are in a heterosexual or same sex couple.
NatWest also updated its parental leave policies in the markets it operates in outside of the UK. For instance, now in the Republic of Ireland and Poland, all new parents have equal parental leave irrespective of their gender.
Previously paternity leave at NatWest remained at the statutory two weeks on full pay, as reported by the Telegraph.
Talking about the changes, Alison Rose, NatWest’s CEO (and the only female CEO of a UK bank) commented: “We want to do more to help families thrive.
“The introduction of Partner Leave will make it possible for colleagues to spend more time supporting their partners who have given birth, had a child born through surrogacy or had a child placed through adoption.
“Not only is this good for families, it also helps support wider cultural change by promoting a shared approach to childcare responsibilities early on.”
While NatWest’s new offering is a step forward, and is very generous, there are a lot of other companies, across a range of different sectors, on a mission to be more inclusive and equitable. Therefore, they are also getting on board with equal parental leave; let’s take a look at four more examples.
Insurer Aviva is particularly forward thinking around its benefits in general. For instance, wellbeing has really come to the fore during COVID-19, but Aviva has long-focused on the need to look after employees’ health if they want them to thrive personally, and at work.
In 2017, like NatWest, Aviva introduced equal parental leave to employee; they get a year of leave, with six months at full basic pay, irrespective of their gender. This is applicable to all UK employees, whether they are full-time or part-time, and includes those who have become parents through adoption or surrogacy.
If both parents are employees at Aviva, they are both entitled to the year of leave, and can take it at the same time.
Danny Harmer, Aviva’s Chief People Officer, commented: “Equal parental leave is now an important part of our culture at Aviva as a family-friendly employer.
“Men taking parental leave have a better understanding of the choices female colleagues have to make when balancing parenting with their career which makes them more empathetic colleagues and leaders too.
“It has also inspired our dads at Aviva to change the way they think about caring responsibilities.”
Over the past five years that the policy has been in place, Aviva has been tracking the take up. The latest figures show that number of men and women taking equal parental leave at Aviva is almost equal (1,338 men v 1,385 women over the last four years); Aviva has a total of 22,000 workers.
Aviva’s insurer competitor Zurich also offers equal parental leave. Every new parent working at Zurich, regardless of their gender, is entitled to 16 weeks of fully paid leave; they are also entitled to statutory maternity and paternity.
Audio streaming giant Spotify is usually ahead of the curve around workplace policies. Ever since the pandemic hit, it has been working hard to enable its employees to work not just from home, but from anywhere.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Spotify has been forward-thinking around maternity and paternity leave, plus it is headquartered in Scandinavia, which is often more ahead of the game on gender equality than the rest of Europe and the US.
At the beginning of 2016, the audio giant announced its equal parental leave offering.
In a blogpost, the company wrote: “Every full-time Spotify employee is eligible for six months 100% paid parental leave plus a 7th month for transitioning back (yes, everyone, men too, including the US).
“There’s no catch, no tricks or loopholes. Regardless of how your family is configured or your gender, if you have a baby, you can use this time in 2 month increments up until the child is 3 years old.”
It seems that men (and those based in the US) are particularly taking advantage of this perk – remember, there is no federally mandated paternity leave in the US.
Telecommunications giant Vodafone is highly focused on caregivers and their needs.
In 2015, Vodafone moved to offer a minimum of 16 weeks fully-paid maternity leave to its workers. It also provides a 30-hour week at full pay for the first six months after their return to work.
Then four years later, in 2019, Vodafone moved to offer this perk to all new parents, irrespective of their gender. This equal parental leave is available across all 24 markets that the company operates in, including the US.
“We are proud to support all families by giving every parent the opportunity to have more time with their children, without worrying about the impact on their finances or careers.”
Beyond these 16 weeks of fully paid leave, Vodafone also provides support to parents whose baby is born prematurely, or those who lose their baby via miscarriage. Regarding miscarriage, the support is offered irrespective of it the loss physically occurs to an employee or their partner.
Moving to a new sector, e-commerce platform focused on the fashion industry Etsy decided in 2017 to gender-blind its parental leave offering.
It now offers all employees 26 weeks of fully paid leave when they become a parent (through birth or adoption), irrespective of their gender, where they live or their family circumstance.
The move was partly motivated by the actions of other employers in the US and beyond – aka in order to remain competitive and continue to attract top tech talent. Employees want to work at diverse, inclusive and equitable companies.
Talking about the move, Etsy CEO at the time Chad Dickerson said: “When my wife and I adopted our son nearly four years ago, I took the full five weeks of leave we offered at the time.
“It was the most important way I could have spent that time.
“Building a company is a team effort that includes the immense support we get from our families.
“I’m excited that our new leave policy will strengthen families and, as a result, the company as a whole.”
This is a list of just a few employers offering generous, and equal, parental leave to their staff – there are lots more examples, including Dropbox, Netflix, Chanel, and Lululemon and international organizations like UNICEF – are you ready to join them and become more inclusive as an employer?
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