You’re considering starting a family. What support in terms of time off and remuneration to see you through the absence can you expect from your employer?
The answer to this question will vary wildly based on where you live in the world. Maternity provisions run from zero mandatory paid days off following having a baby in the US, to significant periods of paid leave in many European and Nordic countries, including 410 paid days of leave in Bulgaria.
Usual global business wisdom would dictate that a multinational company complies with the legal minimums in each operating country. Vodafone, however, have announced they will buck this trend by offering a global maternity policy featuring at least 16 weeks paid leave and six months of fully paid reduced working hours for returning mothers in every country it operates in; even those which do not legally enforce any paid leave at all.
Naturally, the main beneficiaries of this policy will be women and families in countries who do not have generous legal structures enforcing paid time off to support women raising babies. Vodafone operate across 30 countries through their main business and subsidiaries, and the sixteen week paid leave provides an improvement in benefits in 10 of these locations, with the offer of a 30 hour working week for the first six months after returning to work (at full pay) an improvement in a massive 27 of their 30 locations.
With a global workforce of around 100000, of whom 35% are women, Vodafone predicts this improved policy will positively impact a significant proportion of employees. Bringing benefits to them and their families, particularly in countries in Africa, India and the United States, where maternity provisions are currently limited. The policy will be rolled out through 2015 across all operating companies.
So why the magnanimous gesture, you might ask. Naturally, Vodafone have done the sums, and believe that this improvement in employee benefits is actually an investment that will pay dividends. Before making the leap, the KPMG accountancy firm was employed to do a full analysis of the possible policies, their risks, costs and benefits.
Compared to the cost of losing trained and talented employees following maternity, the increased offer is likely to retain more mothers in the Vodafone workforce. And this cuts costs associated with recruiting and training new team members, removes the instability caused when teams are rocked by periods of instability and makes Vodafone a more attractive place to work for many women. Despite the fact that the policy will cost in the region of $28 billion more than their current national policies, Vodafone still cite a cost benefit ratio worth making the changes.
With the war for talent still raging on a global scale, and acknowledged issues in attracting and retaining women in the workforce, it is refreshing to see a multinational corporation leading the way in positive change for female employees. Perhaps their pioneering move will be the start of a trend towards harmonising maternity benefits globally to offer improvements to both employees and business teams worldwide.
Do you work for Vodafone and are thinking of starting a family soon? Are these changes going to impact you positively? Your thoughts and comments below please...