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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
We all know that last year Virgin introduced unlimited leave for all Virgin Management Staff which, is reported to be working well.
Now, Virgin have gone one step further and introduced a full year’s shared parental leave for all employees with four years or more service. Virgin’s philosophy is that taking care of your employees they will take care of your business, and I couldn’t agree more! I am a firm believer in that the more an employment relationship is about mutual trust and respect, the happier and more productive your workforce will be, not to mention the less HR and management time and cost will be taken up in dealing with issues that could have been easily avoided. There is also less of a need to contact me!
However, back to the issue of shared parental leave, it is a bold move by Mr Branson (but not surprising given the other benefits he has introduced), and there will be many CEO’s across the land raising a few eyebrows at this announcement as they are still shuddering at the thought of having to deal with the statutory shared leave entitlements. Many employers are dreading the first request landing on their desks, what are they going to do, they don’t really want to let a man have 6 or even 2 months off to look after their child, how is the business going to manage without them... However some employers, especially those with women in senior or integral roles, are welcoming the change in legislation. They are hoping that they will be back in the business earlier than they would have been, or at least be more involved in things whilst they are away.
Shared parental leave has huge potential to be beneficial to both employees and employers, we will just have to wait and see if it is used to its full advantage. Whilst I would love to see all employers offering 12 months full pay for all employees I doubt that’s going to happen, the majority of employers don’t even offer an enhanced maternity/paternity leave package, but I think that it’s highly likely that those employers that do offer enhanced maternity leave will replicate this in their shared parental leave. If that happens, we may find that more fathers start wanting to take shared parental leave. Alternatively, let’s all go work for Virgin!