This Company Is Offering Six-Months' Paid Parental Leave For Dads
A UK drinks company has announced it will now offer 26-weeks (six and a half months) of paid leave for parents, regardless of their gender.
Diageo, the brand which makes Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnnie Walker, is implementing the groundbreaking policy in a bid to help break down career inequality - and it's one of the first in the UK to extend its policy to fathers.
Under the new rules, all parents can apply for the full 26-week leave regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or whether they choose to adopt or use a surrogate.
The policy will apply to all 4,500 Diageo staff in the UK, including around 3,100 workers in Scotland who are mainly in manufacturing roles.
Employees will still be able to retain benefits and bonuses while on parental leave, a move which the company believes will create and inclusive and diverse workforce, while removing barriers on career progression and helping retain talent within the company.
A recent report from the Department for Business found that despite 285,000 couples being eligible for shared parental leave, current take-up could be as low as 2 per cent (one in 50).
Commenting on this week's announcement, Mairéad Nayager, chief HR officer at Diageo told Insider: "True gender equality in the working world requires fundamental changes to a broad range of working practices, including a shake-up of the policies and cultural norms around parental leave.
"Today's announcement is about matching ambition with action and supporting all of our colleagues - regardless of gender - to experience the joy of raising a young family, while continuing to thrive at work."
Penny Mordaunt, UK Minister for Women and Equalities, added: "I'm delighted to see Diageo making this move. Shared parental leave gives both mums and dads the chance to spend quality time with their child in the important first months of their life, creating a bond that will last a lifetime.
"Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.
"Action like this is exactly what we are encouraging as part of our forthcoming strategy which will aim to empower every woman in the UK to achieve their true potential."
The support doesn't end there for parents either - as the company will also offer the option of parental coaching, flexible working policies and access to free independent counselling.
While the parental leave will undoubtedly be a huge help to parents and new families, according to career coach Mary Beth Ferrante, everyone can benefit from shared parental leave.
"Beyond extended recovery time for mothers to heal, paid family leave does wonders for the health and well-being of the baby. In fact, infant mortality rates decrease with increased paid maternity leave policies," she wrote in a recent Forbes article.
Not only this, Mary argues that allowing paid leave for parents, regardless of gender, can help to "neutralise the office environment."
"Ultimately, we must seek to dismantle the underlying bias that informs opinions and attitudes about working mothers during and after paid leave. If partners also take leave, this not only normalises the practice but neutralises the office environment. The equation is rather simple: equal-parts leave lessens the stigmatization of working mothers."
Diageo has done it - so let's hope this opens the door for other businesses to follow suit.
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