VODAFONE is to become one of the first multinationals to introduce a worldwide minimum level of maternity pay, it announced yesterday.
It will offer women 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, plus full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work.
Chief executive Vittorio Colao said the policy would help more than 1,000 female employees every year in countries with little or no statutory maternity care.
Vodafone announced the policy as it revealed analysis commissioned from KPMG showed global businesses worldwide could save £12.5 billion a year annually by providing 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave.
It found that recruiting and training new employees to replace women who leave the workforce after having a baby costs £30.9bn, higher than the £18.4bn cost of the extra benefits.
Mr Colao 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.
“Women account for 35 per cent of our employees worldwide, but only 21 per cent 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.”
UK-based Vodafone employs around 100,000 people in 30 operating companies across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US.
It said the new policy would be in place by the end of this year.
Vodafone said that other than the United Nations, very few global organisations – and even fewer multi-national corporations – offered minimum maternity policies of the kind it was announcing.
The group already offers a greater number of weeks’ full pay to women on maternity leave in the UK and this will not be affected as the new policy offers a minimum, rather than standardising terms across the world.
Employees in Britain will, however, gain from the 30-hour week on full pay for the six months after returning to work, an idea taken from Italy.
UK rules grant employees statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks, with 90 per cent of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, and the lower of £138.18 or 90 per cent of earnings for the remaining 33 weeks.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS