Vodafone to offer 16 weeks paid maternity leave

Foot In Mouth

Vodafone has introduced a mandatory minimum maternity policy that requires all 30 of its globally operating companies to offer at least 16 weeks of fully paid leave to expectant mothers, even in countries like the US that have no paid leave requirements.

The kicker? For the first six months after returning from leave, women who work at the multinational telecommunications company will receive full pay for 30-hour weeks.

"Too many talented women leave working life because they face a difficult choice between either caring for a newborn baby or maintaining their careers," said Vittorio Colao, the company's chief executive.

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Thirty-five percent of Vodafone's employees are women, but they comprise only 21 percent of senior leadership. The company hopes that this policy will aid in talent retention and allow working mother's to spend more time with their newborn and less money on child care.

A report by KPMG, commissioned by Vodafone, estimates that global businesses could save up to $19 billion per year if they adopted Vodafone's policy. The firm said companies spend roughly $47 billion every year recruiting and training new employees to replace women who leave the workforce after giving birth. Offering 16 weeks paid maternity leave would cost only $28 billion a year, according to the report.

"Supporting working mothers at all levels of our organisation will ultimately result in better decisions, a better culture and a deeper understanding of our customers' needs," Colao said.

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