We must say, we’re rather impressed with Virgin Media’s latest announcement, which serves to prioritise the welfare of employees along with the financial success of the business. As evidenced by Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, and countless other studies of women grappling with maternity leave, never mind the daddys getting a look in, parental leave has always been a contentious issue. You and your partner are happy in your careers, you don’t want to pack it in, but you do want to start a family and spend time with your kids, especially in their first year, when the building of bonds is crucial. Often, however, we’re forced to make a choice between taking time out to raise our kids or fire ahead with our careers. And at best, fathers get about two weeks to stay at home, which is pretty pathetic.
Virgin Media, spearheaded by Richard Branson, have just announced a new parental leave plan that will surely inspire other companies to jump on board (excuse the pun).
Just this week, they announced that they will allow for both men and women to take fully paid, shared parental leave for up to a whole year. The positive effects of this initiative are tenfold. Not only will workers here have the time to get set up at home during this important first year, they get to do it together, safe in the knowledge that their wages won’t dwindle as they ‘choose’ to be at home. It will no doubt cause a major sigh of relief among workers and it’s something we hope to see become standardised across industries.
Parents can either take their time off together, or split it, all the while their jobs are guaranteed when they return to work. Taking the Shared Parental Leave legislation ‘a step further’, as Branson puts it, Virgin staff will be paid 100% of their salary for 52 weeks of parental leave. The only catch is you have to be in the company more than two years to avail of this, otherwise you will receive only 25% of pay, while the state would take care of the rest.
“If you take care of your employee they will take care of your business,” says Branson on the Virgin website. “That is a philosophy that has served us well for more than four decades, and is the foundation of everything we do at Virgin.”
“As a father and now a grandfather to three wonderful grandchildren, I know how magical the first year of a child’s life is but also how much hard work it takes. Being able to spend as much time as possible with your loved ones is absolutely vital, especially early on.
Health and wellbeing in the workplace should play a critical part in every company’s thinking. The more you support your staff, the happier and healthier your business will be.”
Do you think parents should receive full payment for 12 months to stay at home after having a child?