Want to know which companies are the most generous for maternity and paternity leave? A new blog by the name m&pper breaks down how the parental leave policies of nearly 50 of the UK’s largest companies stack up. Tracking the likes of UK employers, including Burberry, The Guardian, Unilever, PwC and the NHS, if you want to find out where the best support is at, or you’re just feeling a little nosy, this free to use platform which gathers user-provided data about what’s on offer in terms of parental leave policy at some of the UK’s biggest employers.
With the aim of helping families of all kinds to plan ahead for a family, I say hats off to you in this noble effort. I had a word with the creator to get the lo-down on some of the trends discovered within….
Which company, out of all those logged to date, has hands-down the best parental leave policies?
So far, Unilever comes up trumps, reportedly offering mothers 39 weeks on full pay and fathers two weeks on full pay. I haven’t yet come across anyone else with such generous policies. It’s probably the reason Mumsnet awarded the company top marks at their Family Friendly awards (and no, I don’t have any connection to Unilever!).
Overall, which sectors lead the way?
Law firms tend to do very well, probably because they invest so much in their employees from an early stage by sponsoring trainee solicitors through law school. They make a big investment in their people and they’re keen to try and encourage them to return to work. In general, I would say that the more specialist skills a typical employee has – solicitors or accountants, for example – the more generous a company tends to be, as their employees are harder to replace.
Is it true that companies are overall bad at supporting their employees with parental leave policies?
Actually, many companies are incredibly supportive of working parents, although some more so than others. In the cases where employers offer less help, I don’t think the companies have deliberately set out to be unsupportive, and they all still abide by the statutory minimums set out by the government. It is obviously harder for some employers than others, and the more profitable the business the easier they should find it to support working parents.
You’d expect public sector employers to offer less than the private sector, for instance. But there are many ways of offering support beyond cold hard cash. Small businesses who don’t employ many people will often struggle to pay a particularly generous maternity payout, but may well be able to offer things like flexible working or job shares that make parents’ lives easier.
Do you feel there is still much work to be done in the area of improving parental leave policies?
Yes – in most cases I think there is room for improvement, but as I say, it’s not all about the cash. As well as offering more generous terms regarding pay and leave, companies could consider things like maternity coaching, flexible and/or remote working, job-sharing, on-site childcare, flexible emergency leave, and family health benefits like medical insurance. I hope that by having more transparency around what’s on offer in general we can encourage employers to take inspiration from one another.
Do you prescribe to the idea that there is a direct correlation between new parental leave policy and employee retention?
Yes, I am sure there will be a link. Employee retention is obviously affected by the way an employer treats its employees overall, and parental leave/pay policies are indicative of an overall attitude, in my opinion.
In an ideal world, what would you like to see as the mandatory maternity and paternity leave?
I don’t think it is possible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all policy. So much depends on the specific needs of the employee and their family, the role that employee has within the business, and what the company is able to offer while remaining profitable. I would like to see employers move towards being more flexible overall and more open to developing new approaches. People are always going to want to have babies. People are always going to want to have careers. I would like to see employers taking the initiative to make these two things more compatible.
m&pper is an incredible resource – what inspired you to create it?
I came up with the idea for the site because it’s something that I went looking for on the internet myself. I am a woman in my early thirties, in full time employment and hoping to start a family, and I have been shocked at the disparity between what different employers offer, even within the same industry. When I couldn’t find anything that explained what’s on offer, I decided to get a blog going myself. With nearly 50 employers’ policies up there so far, it’s proving popular so far.
Anything else you would like to add?
m&pper is a free resource which doesn’t require registration – but I would strongly encourage anyone visiting the site to answer the anonymous survey about their own employer’s maternity/paternity policies. Information is power! We want to equip people with the details they need to make informed decisions. To do that, we need data. So please fill in the survey here – it is completely anonymous, so you can share with confidence, safe in the knowledge that you are helping working families to plan ahead.
Visit m&pper to get the lo-down about the parental leave policies of nearly 50 of the UK’s largest companies here.