Last updated 05:00, March 17 2015
A flood of supportive messages has been the “overwhelming” response to news that Vodafone will increase the amount of fully paid maternity leave it offers.
“I didn’t expect it to be latched on to as much,” chief executive Russell Stanners said on Monday.
Vodafone announced last week that new mums on staff will get an extra four weeks fully paid maternity leave under the company scheme from April 1.
The change takes the company’s maternity leave provision from 12 to 16 weeks. It will also offer mothers who return to work within 12 months the ability to work a 30 hour week for 40 hours pay for six months.
Stanners said the new policy was being introduced by Vodafone worldwide and showed the company taking a strong position in helping mothers back into the workforce.
He said every business had to do what was right for it and, while attracting and retaining mums was important to Vodafone, he won’t be “spending a lot of time telling others to do it.”
The move brings Vodafone into line with the government paid parental leave term of 16 weeks which will begin on the same day, increasing to 18 weeks from April 1, 2016.
However, the maximum maternity pay available from the government scheme is $504.10 gross a week while Vodafone’s scheme provides the employee’s full pay.
Where maternity provisions offered by an employer are the same or better than the government scheme, employees must choose the employer’s.
Vodafone human resources director Antony Welton said 37 per cent of Vodafone New Zealand staff were female and 38 per cent of senior staff.
“We’re quite proud of that but we don’t think we’ve reached where we need to go,” he said.
The company’s research had found that two factors increased the likelihood of women returning to work and staying there.
One was longer maternity leave. The other was more flexibility on returning to work.
Vodafone, a UK-based multinational, announced the global policy last Friday, saying it would become one of the first organisations in the world to define a mandatory minimum maternity benefits standard.
Other companies in New Zealand offer a range of benefits.
For example, Westpac bank offers a “top-up” to the government payment, a return to work incentive payment and a “graduated” return to work.
Air New Zealand said its policy “is in line with New Zealand law”.
Vodafone UK’s maternity leave offers three months fully paid leave, six months on half pay and a further three months unpaid.
– The Press