Home Census Agency welfare census: full-time minimum wage for paternity leave ‘disappointing’

Agency welfare census: full-time minimum wage for paternity leave ‘disappointing’

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The Drum’s Agency Wellness Census reassures us that support for female employees taking maternity leave is common, but lacking when it comes to paternity leave and assistance with child care.

The Drum this week published the results of the welfare agency census / The Drum

Unlike other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom enforces statutory maternity leave. Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are known as ‘regular maternity leave’ and the last 26 weeks as ‘additional maternity leave’, but the pay can vary greatly depending on the circumstances.

According to The Drum’s recent Agency Wellbeing Census, which surveyed over 200 companies in the UK, the vast majority (76.1%) offer 52 weeks of maternity leave at a mix of full pay, 90% and statutory. Among agencies that offered full-pay maternity leave, 12 weeks was the average number of weeks on the table.

However, while the UK also allows paternity leave of up to two weeks, the amount of pay paid to fathers during this period is at the discretion of the employer. Among the agencies surveyed, the most common allowance for paternity leave was two weeks, at 52.69%. Most men also received their full pay during this period.

However, Lorraine Jennings-Creed, Director of Wellness Services and Culture Change at Nabs Industry Support Network. says: “It is somewhat disappointing that two weeks of paternity leave is the length of time most men receive full pay. If we want to support the women who stay in our industry and progress in it, we need to create as many support mechanisms as possible. One such mechanism is longer paternity and co-parenting leave, and not just providing it, but normalizing its use.

The survey found that 88.48% offered shared paternal leave and 91.05% offered “keeping in touch” days or training days for returnees, but also highlighted that greater support in the workplace work for parents is always necessary. Despite rising childcare costs coupled with the cost of living crisis that is causing working parents to forego advertising, less than a fifth (18.42%) of agencies surveyed will help parents pay child care costs.

Jennings-Creed says, “At Nabs, we offer 12 weeks of paid leave for partners that can be taken anytime for 52 weeks from when their baby is born. Over the past two years this has been used by team members and has provided families with options such as the other partner being able to return to work, in turn helping their careers and household income levels, and both parents being together, helping with essential bonding time and dealing with issues such as a lack of sleep.

“We found that shared parental leave was complex and did not meet the needs of our teams. Although he is available to staff, his involvement is non-existent. From a DE&I perspective, companies should also recognize the wide range of parenting and family role models in society and offer policies that encompass this and offer specific support, for example, adoption policies or policies to support those who go through surrogacy. Every journey to parenthood is different, and by providing support tailored to those journeys, we can include parents from all walks of life in our workplaces.

In the UK, employees will also be entitled to leave or pay if the baby is stillborn after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy or dies after birth. However, many agencies may wish to extend this policy to both parents or the circumstances in which leave may be taken in the event of a miscarriage.

Check out more results from our agency wellness survey here.