Leading Parental Leave Policy Addressing Gender Inequality
In August of this year, I was part of an historic moment in the history of our organisation, as we unveiled to our employees an industry-leading parental leave policy.
The amount of employer-funded paid parental leave varies between employers. Based on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s, the average length of paid primary carer’s leave offered is 10.1 weeks and for paid secondary carer’s leave it is 7.3 days.
Our own research of both recruitment and non-recruitment organisations in the country, revealed that where an employer-funded policy existed, average paid leave offered to the primary carer was only 4 weeks, and 2 weeks for secondary carers.
As working mothers ourselves having had different experiences whilst on parental leave, it has been something which myself and Founder and CEO, Nikki Beaumont had been discussing for some time.
As a philosophy, we believe in placing people first, and that starts with our internal people. A parental leave policy which aligned to our values and what we felt was fitting for our employees, was lacking in our benefits program which previously had been guided by the government approach.
With many employees combining work with caring responsibilities, providing a modern parental leave policy is critical to employee attraction and retention, but more so supporting employees to balance their career with family transitions.
We are often called upon as an industry to do more to help overcome complexities around diversity, inclusion and gender differences in the workplace. We felt that one of the biggest stumbling blocks was that it still seems that society expects that it is the mother that stays at home with the baby, which goes on to impact working opportunities long-term.
A key driver for achieving gender equality is changing attitudes about the distribution of work at home and in the workplace. Today, 64 per cent of couple families with children have both parents working – an 8 per cent increase in the past decade.
We wanted to create something that gave both primary and secondary carers the same level of cover so that regardless you could take that important time to be at home.
This allows for a family to have the flexibility to decide what’s best for them. We hope, in turn, this will lead to more fathers taking time at home, which will be a small step towards helping change that frame of reference.
For these reasons and more, in line with the WGEA guidelines for delivering a leading parental leave policy, Beaumont People now offers up to 16 weeks paid leave with no repayment clauses. It is available to all employees including residents and those under sponsorship visas; and equally, for both primary and secondary carers – an aspect of our policy which we are most proud of.
There are significant long-term benefits that can be achieved by businesses adopting an equal opportunity approach within their own parental leave policies, and we invite others to join us.
For starters, if more dads had equal opportunity to take time at home, then it could lead to more women returning to work.
It could lead to a better understanding of the challenges faced by a stay-at-home parent, and equally the challenges faced when returning to work.
It could also lead to a better understanding of the skills that a parent can bring into the workforce as a result, such as multi-tasking, ability to prioritise as well as a strong work ethic.
Lastly, the parents that come back to work will have higher levels of engagement and commitment to the organisation. They have not had to return because of a payback clause in the parental leave policy!