Vodafone Offers Equal Maternity Leave to Global Female Workforce

Vodafone Group Plc has become one of the first multinational companies to offer all of its female employees the right to maternity leave, even if the country they work in does not insist on it.

The Newbury, England-based phone carrier said it will offer a mandatory minimum maternity policy by the end of this year. The plan will consist of at least 16 weeks full pay and then full pay for a 30-hour week during the first six months after a new mother returns to work. The plan is to be rolled out across the 30 countries in which the company operates, from India and Turkey to Egypt and South Africa.

Vodafone cited a study it commissioned from KPMG which shows businesses could save up to $19 billion a year by offering the 16-week leave.

The KPMG research weighed the $28 billion it would cost companies to introduce a similar policy against the estimated $47 billion spent annually on recruiting and training new workers to replace women who leave the workforce after having a baby.

“Too many talented women leave working life because they face a difficult choice between caring for a newborn baby or maintaining their careers,” Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao said in a statement on Friday. “Our new mandatory minimum global maternity policy will support over 1,000 Vodafone women employees every year in countries with little or no statutory maternity care.”

The U.S. has no obligatory maternity leave for women, unless they work for a company that voluntarily offers it or live in one of three states that have a policy. Though the Family and Medical Leave Act does grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year, it applies to full-time workers at companies with at least 50 workers.

U.K. rules grant 52 weeks of leave and statutory maternity pay for at least 39 weeks. A new mother receives 90 percent of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks and 138.18 pounds ($208) or 90 percent of average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks.

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