MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Companies Cling To Employees By Increasing Maternity and Paternity Pay

Companies are using maternity pay as a way to cling onto employees following COVID-19 restrictions.
A pregnant person is sitting on a bed with money in their open hand.

Research conducted by Bright Horizons has found that 79% of professional employers are offering “enhanced maternity pay” compared to 57% in 2017. This covers adoption and surrogacy leave pay.

Nearly 700 organisations responded to the survey on their parental leave policies, according to a news release from the supplier. Sectors covered by the research include financial services, legal and professional services, digital, technology and telecoms and more. All companies are located in the UK and Ireland.

Employers Enhance Leave and Pay For New Parents

The Bright Horizons Parental Leave Benchmark says that nearly 80% of the top tier employers pay beyond the statutory minimum, a 22 percentage point increase since its last piece of research in 2017. It also explains that 67% of employers have enhanced Paternity of Partner Leave pay, compared with 44% in 2017.

Those offering enhanced Shared Parental Leave pay have almost doubled in the past four years, from 25% in 2017 to 48% in 2021.

The supplier also notes in its research that the most frequent enhancement of Maternity and Adoption pay is now 26 weeks of full pay. This is seen in sectors such as banking, professional services and technology. Paternity pay is also being enhanced past 2 weeks, with 21% taking this approach compared with 9% in 2019.

Laura Moynihan, senior HR business partner, Société Générale, says: “An important part of our benefits package is the 26 weeks of enhanced maternity adoption or surrogacy leave pay we offer, but this is just one part of the holistic approach we like to take. Welcoming parents back after they’ve been on leave and making sure their return is as positive as possible for everyone involved is a key priority for us.”

Businesses Become Generous To Retain Talent

In sectors where talent retention is key and packages are at the top end, companies are coupling generous enhanced pay with programmes of coaching, childcare and other supports, says the research. Other reasons employers cite for increasing the generosity of offers include post-leave career progression and satisfaction and reducing recruitment costs. The experience of lockdown has also prompted organisations to re-think ways of helping staff to balance their work and family lives, according to the report.

“It’s no secret that ensuring more parents return to work after taking parental leave makes sense for businesses; it reduces recruitment costs and keeps valuable knowledge in the business,” says Denise Priest, director of employer and strategic partnerships, Bright Horizons. “Interestingly, the majority who offer enhanced paternity leave still offer just two weeks at full pay. However, 21% now offer more than this, compared to only 9% who offered more than two weeks in 2019. This could be a good area for companies looking to differentiate themselves from competitors and steal a march on talent.”

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. In the first six weeks, employees are paid 90% of their average weekly earnings (before tax). The next 33 weeks sees the employee pay capped at £151.97.