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#MakeItHappen – maternity pay and international women’s day

You may have heard that the 2015 theme for International Women’s Day is #MakeItHappen encouraging everyone to take positive action to close the gender gap. Employment law can play a huge part in this, and the idea of gender equality sits at the heart of recent developments such as shared parental leave.
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A great example of this is Vodafone’s recent announcement that they are introducing a global maternity policy where all new mothers will receive 16 weeks maternity leave on full pay. They will also be offered a 30-hour week on full pay for the first six months of work after returning from maternity leave.

The policy covers all countries where Vodafone operates, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA. Statutory protection for women on maternity leave varies across these countries and so many employees will end up on significantly better terms than they were previously. In some countries, such as the USA, women are not entitled to any paid maternity leave under statute at all.

As well as providing a competitive benefit for employees, Vodafone believes that there will be advantages for the company. According to KPMG, offering enhanced maternity benefits are cheaper than replacing women who decide to leave employment after a period of maternity leave. The hope is that the new family-friendly policy will help and encourage women to stay in the workforce. The reduced-hours policy is based on Vodafone’s practice in Italy, where the company have noticed much higher rates of return and retention.

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