Sir Richard Branson could well be parents’ dream boss today, after Virgin Management announced it will offer staff who take shared parental leave up to a full year’s pay.
The investment and brand licensing arm of the billionaire’s Virgin Group, which employs around 140 people in London and Geneva, is giving all parents, including adopters, up to 100% of their pay for the 52-week period of shared leave. The proportion depends on the length of time they have worked for Branson: from 25% for less than two years, up to the full whack for more than four years.
The Government introduced a new policy letting partners share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of maternity pay in April. But statutory wages are still only the lower of £139.58 or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings. That incentivises the higher earner, which is still usually the father, to stay at work.
‘If you take care of your employees they will take care of your business. As a father and now a granddad to three wonderful grandchildren, I know how magical the first year of a child’s life is but also how much hard work it takes,’ Branson said.
‘I’m delighted that we can offer this support to our staff so that they can enjoy parental leave to the full as we continue to our work in changing business for good.’
It’s a saccharine statement, but for once this policy is substance as well as spin (unlike Old Beardy’s policy of offering his staff unlimited holiday). By allowing mothers and fathers a more balanced choice over who holds the baby, Branson is doling out a welcome boost for gender equality (probably as long as they're willing to accompany their boss on one of his publicity stunts).