More firms offering enhanced parental leave

The number of jobs offering enhanced parental leave — defined as what is offered above the statutory minimum in the UK — has more than doubled in the last year, according to new research by the global hiring platform Indeed.

While employers are legally obliged to give new parents paid leave, Indeed’s analysis shows a continuous rise in the number of job descriptions on its site offering jobseekers benefits over and above the statutory minimum. This is based on postings that advertise “generous, extended, competitive, enhanced, or market-leading” maternity, paternity, or parental leave.

In fact, the number of vacancies advertising an enhanced parental leave package has risen thirteen-fold (1,316%) since 2017, highlighting growing employer support for helping to create stronger family lives.

While generous parental leave policies are generally viewed as an effective way of attracting and retaining female workers, fathers and secondary caregivers taking parental leave also tips the balance of household tasks away from mothers who traditionally have performed these.

The research comes after the Office for National Statistics said 75.6% of mothers with dependent children were in work from April to June of 2021 – the highest level in 20 years.

With parents in the UK facing soaring childcare costs this summer, flexibility and greater benefits for parental leave are more in demand now than ever before.

Shift towards more equal and inclusive approach

Indeed’s analysis also shows an increasing number of companies taking a more inclusive approach to parental leave, with the number of job postings mentioning shared parental leave more than doubling (102% rise) in the last year, and rising by 279% since 2019.

Under the UK Government’s Shared Parental Leave and Pay plan, couples can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them.

Retailers leading the way

Leading UK retailer Boots, once again tops Indeed’s list of companies with the most job postings offering enhanced parental leave benefits. Three out of the top five most generous UK companies when it comes to parental leave are well known retailers, with DFS Furniture Stores coming in second and Sainsbury’s ranking fifth.

The Ministry of Defence, continued to be the highest ranked public sector employer in terms its parental leave policy of offering 100% of salary during the first 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), however has fallen from sixth position in Indeed’s analysis this time last year, to twelfth in 2022.

Analysis of the companies most likely to highlight ‘enhanced parental leave’ benefits in their job postings show a wide variety of sectors, including retail, healthcare, energy and education.

Top 10 ‘parent-friendly’ employers

1 Boots, Retail
2 DFS Furniture Stores, Retail
3 Circle Health Group, Healthcare
4 SSE PLC, Energy
5 Sainsbury’s, Retail
6 N Family Club, Education
7 Vodafone, Telecomms
8 Hollywood Bowl Group, Entertainment
9 CVS Group, Veterinary
10 Jacobs, Engineering

Glenda Kirby, VP of Client Success EMEA, at global hiring platform Indeed, said: “The first months of a child’s life are an exciting and tender time for parents but they can also feel like a whirlwind and start to take their toll. During this time and throughout the rest of their careers it’s important parents feel supported by their employers so it’s encouraging to see a growing number go above and beyond when it comes to enhanced parental leave.

“Paid leave programs help improve a person’s wellbeing and when an employee is happy and feels appreciated it has a positive knock-on effect on their productivity and loyalty. Policies targeted at fathers and secondary caregivers also help shift household tasks away from women, who traditionally have performed these.

“Work needs women and by providing better access to better parental leave employers can help build stronger family lives that we know causes a ripple effect into the workplace and wider society.”

Jemima Olchawski, CEO at the gender equality and women’s rights charity Fawcett Society, said: “Many working women balance the demands of becoming a parent with the pressure of taking time away from work to start a family and when they return, this is often on reduced hours and balanced alongside childcare. It’s encouraging to see many large employers offering enhanced parental leave schemes to support women but also to shift expectations and encourage men to take up parental leave. This will not only have a positive impact on gender equality and pay equity at work, but also supporting equality at home and in childcare too.”