Last week, Vodafone Group announced that it will offer 16 weeks of paid maternity leave to employees at all 30 of its companies around the world by the end of the year. In addition, returning mothers will be offered a flexible work schedule after their leave is over: for six months, they will be allowed to work 30 hours a week, while retaining their full-time salary.
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“We think it’s unique in its nature,” said Chuck Pol, president of Vodafone Americas, in an interview with The Washington Post. “It gives us an advantage when we’re working with female employees, not only in our business today but as we recruit people.”
Most working moms in the U.S. are lucky if they can get 12 weeks of unpaid leave after giving birth, assuming that their employer is covered under the FMLA, and there are no unspoken social pressures to return earlier. Companies aren’t required to offer more, and most don’t. A report from the Families and Work Institute found that only 16 percent of employers offered fully paid maternity leave as of 2008. So, it’s definitely big news when a company bucks the trend and offers not just paid leave, but a flexible work schedule for moms when they return to work.
In rolling out this policy, Vodafone joins a few employers who offer maternity — and sometimes paternity — leave that goes far beyond the legally mandated minimum of 12 unpaid weeks, including:
- Google: 22 paid weeks for moms, 12 paid weeks for dads.
- Facebook: 17 paid weeks for moms, 17 paid weeks for dads.
- Reddit: 17 paid weeks for moms, 17 paid weeks for dads.
Many of these companies offer similar benefits regardless of whether the new parent gives birth or adopts; some, like Google, even offer fringe benefits like a stipend “for takeout food.”
If you’ve perused these lists of top companies for working parents before, you’ve probably already noticed what all these employers have in common: they’re tech companies. That’s likely because these organizations compete so keenly for top talent. Free cereal and ball pits might woo child prodigies, but if you want midcareer management material, well, you gotta come across with the parental leave.
Still, what’s good news for techies might someday become good news for working parents in all industries. Here’s hoping that we see more stories like these coming across our feeds.
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