A financial company offers 9 months of parental leave equal to full pay

Asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen is offering nine months of fully paid parental leave to new mums and dads working at its business in the UK.

The policy is considered one of the most generous in the UK financial sector, more than doubling the company’s current full-pay maternity benefit by four months, with paternity leave of just two weeks.

The changes will come into effect from the start of next year and will allow parents 40 weeks of fully paid leave, including those who have adopted or have a child through a surrogate.

Parents can take up to 52 weeks in one, two or three periods of leave, over two years from birth or adoption, and will get extra leave if they have a premature baby.

Rose Thomson, director of human resources at Standard Life Aberdeen, said the current shorter policy meant new parents may have to make tough decisions about who can afford to take time off and “whether the time to ‘one parent with the child takes away from the other’.

“We think that needs to change,” she added.

Meanwhile, mobile network provider Vodafone has announced plans to introduce equal parental leave this week, giving both parents 16 weeks of fully paid leave for its employees worldwide.

It also allows employees to stagger their return from parental leave by working the equivalent of a 30-hour week at full pay for an additional six months.

By the end of March 2021, Vodafone aims to make parental leave available to all unborn parents – regardless of gender, sexuality or seniority – across its 24 markets and operations in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and in the United States.

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone, said the company wanted to be able to give every parent more time with their child “without worrying about the impact on their finances or their career”.

Insurer Aviva introduced equal parental leave in 2017, allowing its UK employees to take up to 12 months, including 26 weeks on full pay.

He revealed new fathers took an average of 21 weeks of paternity leave in the year after the policy was introduced, up from two weeks the year before.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation scrapped its one-year policy in February, opting instead for half paid leave and giving new parents a $20,000 stipend.

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