Maternity benefits ‘vary wildly’

6175321766_a966a53651_oMaternity and paternity benefits offered by UK businesses vary wildly in both length and level of pay, research has found.

A survey of 100 companies conducted by My Family Care found the duration of enhanced pay ranged from three to 52 weeks, while 25% of companies questioned said they only offer statutory maternity pay (SMP).

All companies with over 5,000 employees that responded claimed to provide enhanced maternity pay, with the majority of these offering enhanced paternity pay as well.

Jennifer Liston-Smith, director of coaching & consultancy at My Family Care, said the research would help companies benchmark their provision. “It is not a topic that is often discussed in public, and clients are often at a loss to know whether their market-leading provisions are still market-leading year on year.”

The research also found that legal and banking sectors generally provided the best benefits to staff with a new baby. “These industries do have a reputation for having an unfriendly work-life culture and they are aware that one of the leaks in their female talent pipeline is around the maternity transition,” she said.

“It is easy to understand why they would offer generous maternity packages, such as bonuses after four months of returning to work. In our experience, those who lead the field also focus on ensuring systems are in place to smooth the transition too, with managers being aware and equipped for good conversations and individuals having the skills to manage smart ways of working for themselves.”

With shared parental leave (SPL) coming in from April 2015, employers will need to decide what to offer fathers, added Liston-Smith. “Companies are currently grappling with the issue of whether to offer parity with their enhanced maternity pay when it comes to enhancing SPL pay for either gender. Lawyers are advising that it seems to be acceptable to run a separate policy for maternity (with its own enhanced pay) and for shared parental leave (with a different level of enhancement) on the basis that they are different things and that the original purpose of maternity pay was to enable a period of recovery.”

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Categories: News, Working parents

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