Finding and keeping the best employees is a priority for all businesses. The best people bring in the best clients, they work hard, they offer value for money and they have commitment to the goals of the business. But these people are also in high demand – making it increasingly difficult to keep them, when they constantly receive offers from elsewhere.
The government has just handed employers another tool that can help retain the best staff – shared parental leave. A concept that may take some time to get used to, but which is a great bargaining tool for bringing in and keeping the very best talent.
As of December 1 this year, parents will gain the right to share the leave that is usually offered to mothers only. This new piece of legislation will allow parents to work out the best way that suits them to share the care of their newborn child or their adopted child and research is already showing that parents are very happy about the idea.
A study carried out by Linklaters of parents (mothers and fathers) working for FTSE 100 companies discovered that 63% felt that they would be interested in taking up the new right and this increased to 76% if employers offered enhanced rates of pay for the leave period. However, 62% of those interested in taking leave were also worried that doing so would affect their career prospects. Interestingly, men felt that they would only take the parental leave option if it was an accepted thing to do within their company.
Many companies already offer enhanced maternity leave to women who take leave after the birth of their child. This is designed to encourage the woman to return after the maternity period and to ensure a level of investment on both sides. Men however have been somewhat sidelined when it comes to paternity leave with most companies offering the standard two weeks.
One way to set a company apart is to offer more. It has been stated by the government that they see it as important to match paternity leave enhanced payments with maternity leave making it a level playing field for all parties. The extra costs associated with this would be relatively low, but the gains could huge in terms of employee engagement.
Creating a safe culture for parents
We all know and accept fully that Dads should be fully involved in the lives of their children and there are very few fathers who would dispute this, yet employment legislation has been slow to catch up with this idea. These new rules are the perfect way to create an atmosphere surrounding parental leave that is positive and career enhancing for both parents.
Businesses need to make it clear that their work culture accepts parents, encourages them and is flexible. Paternity leave in particular should be encouraged and supported – creating an environment where men are happy and willing to take on the responsibility of their children alongside that of their job. For women this allows them the ability to take shorter periods of maternity leave -protecting their careers and pensions and making it easier for their employers. It really is a win win.
With clear evidence that both parents are interested in parental leave and the flexibility that this offers to both men and women – it is obvious that a company that makes it easy, accepted and a positive will be seen in a good light by prospective employees.