British telecoms giant Vodafone Group plc said it will introduce a mandatory global minimum level of maternity leave, including 16 weeks on full pay, plus a 30-hour week on full pay for a period of six months when the mother returns to work.
By the end of this year, female employees working at all levels across the firm’s thirty operating companies in Europe, the US, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa will be included in its maternity leave policy.
The London-based company says that apart from the United Nations, only a handful of global organizations – and even fewer multinational firms – have adopted such maternity policies.
If all company’s adopted Vodafone’s new global maternity leave policy, they would save billions.
Vodafone said in a statement on Friday:
“While a number of Vodafone subsidiaries already offer substantial maternity care terms which will continue as before, the new mandatory minimum global maternity policy will make a significant difference to the lives of thousands of Vodafone women employees in countries where there is little or no legislative requirement to provide maternity support.”
Maternity leave makes business sense
KPMG was commissioned by Vodafone to calculate what the economic impact of providing 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave might be. The professional services company calculated that global businesses could save up to an estimated $19 billion each year.
Just replacing women who do not stay on in their workforce after having a baby, costs global businesses worldwide about $47 billion annually in recruiting and training costs.
Giving female employees 16 weeks of maternity leave on full pay instead of the statutory minimum would cost companies an extra $28 billion each year.
If companies could retain more female workers after their maternity leave, they could save up to $19 billion annually, while retaining the experience and knowledge of these employees with positive consequences for productivity and effectiveness.
Mothers would save billions
KPMG also calculated that mothers globally would save a cumulative $14 billion each year in childcare for their new babies if they worked the equivalent of a four-day week at full pay for the first six months after coming back to work.
With a four-day week for six months, mothers would be able to spend a cumulative 608 million extra days with their newborn babies.
Employers lose too many valuable female workers because of lack of maternity support, says Mr. Colao.
Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s CEO, said:
“Too many talented women leave working life because they face a difficult choice between either caring for a newborn baby or maintaining their careers. Our new mandatory minimum global maternity policy will support over 1,000 Vodafone women employees every year in countries with little or no statutory maternity care.”
“Women account for 35% of our employees worldwide but only 21% of our international senior leadership team. We believe our new maternity policy will play an important role in helping to bridge that gap. Supporting working mothers at all levels of our organisation will ultimately result in better decisions, a better culture and a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs.”
According to British law, female workers get the statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks, with 90% of weekly earnings for the first six weeks, followed by 90% of earning (or £138.18) for 33 weeks.
Vodafone Video – Maternity Leave