Vodafone has became one of the first global employers to harmonise its maternity leave policy and offer new mothers in the firm equal minimum rights wherever they work across its business.
With effect from last month, the multinational telecommunications group will offer staff 16 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave to help retain talented and experienced female staff.
New mothers will also receive full pay for working a reduced 30-hour week for the first six months after they return to work.
The policy, which aims to help female employees in countries where there is little or no legislative requirement to provide maternity support, will be rolled out across the organisation’s 30 operating divisions in Africa, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the US.
Other than the United Nations, very few global employers have adopted minimum maternity policies of this kind.
Vodafone is addressing an issue that is prevalent across business: that many women do not return to work after maternity leave, or find it difficult to return to the workplace because of poor return-to-work policies that recognise and support the changes resulting from the birth or adoption of a baby.
A Vodafone spokesperson said: “These maternity benefits are intended to give women time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, bond with their babies and manage the challenges that come with returning to work after maternity leave.
“Providing a mandatory minimum of 16 weeks’ maternity leave and the transition back-to-work programme also makes sense for us from a business perspective, helping to attract and retain talented women.”
Ben Black, director of workplace family benefits provider My Family Care, added: “Retaining and recruiting talented women is a business imperative, and in one fell swoop Vodafone has made itself sound a whole lot more family friendly in the eyes of the world.”
Analysis conducted by Vodafone with the help of KPMG found that global employers could save up to an estimated $19bn (£12.9bn) annually by offering their staff 16 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave and better return-to-work schemes for new mothers.
The professional services organisation also found that recruiting and training new employees to replace employees that leave the workforce after having a baby costs global organisations $47bn (£32bn) annually.