Vodafone has become one of the first multinational companies to offer new mothers equal minimum maternity leave across the globe, despite some countries where it operates mandating only short post-baby breaks or none at all.
The UK telecoms group said it would grant all new mothers 16 weeks of leave, partly to save itself money in the long term by keeping talented and experienced women in the workforce.
Vodafone announced a new Maternity policy. By the end of this year, all of Vodafone employees will be offered at least 16 weeks fully-paid maternity leave, as well as full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after they return to work. The policy will apply in every one of the 30 companies in which Vodafone operates, including in Africa, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the US. Watch 'Maternomics' which shows it makes sense for businesses across the world to provide women with a minimum of 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave.
[youtube height=”500″ width=”800″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpxYpymkyt8[/youtube]
Vodafone said it would also offer mothers across the company full pay for working a reduced 30-hour week when they return from maternity leave for the first six months.
Vittorio Colao, chief executive, said the policy ”will support over 1,000 Vodafone women employees” every year in its 30 operating companies around the world.
While many of these women work in countries with statutory maternity leave, nearly all will see a benefit from the modified work week.
The new policy will apply to employees of Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom, but not employees of the telecoms group’s partner companies.
Sixteen weeks is a small break in a European context but would be viewed as generous in much of Asia. In the US, paid maternity leave is not a guaranteed benefit.
It claimed that the UN was one of the only global organisations offering a similar, harmonised policy of minimum post-baby leave.
Vodafone made the decision after commissioning a study by consultants at KPMG that indicated global businesses could save up to $19bn annually through the provision of 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave.
The reasons given for KPMG’s finding included the costs of recruiting and training new staff who replace women that leave the workforce after having a baby. The total cost of such staff replacement is $47bn annually, which KPMG found outweighs any savings made by not being generous enough with maternity benefits.
The KPMG study also found there were “positive consequences for productivity and effectiveness” from retaining the knowledge and experience of women who stay at work after having children.
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