Vodafone to introduce minimum level maternity pay globally

Vodafone would emerge one of the first multinational companies to introduce a worldwide minimum level of maternity pay, the company announced yesterday.

The company would offer women 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, plus full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work.

According to chief executive Vittorio Colao, the policy would help over 1,000 female employees every year in countries with little or no statutory maternity care.

The policy announcement came as it revealed the results analysis commissioned from KPMG that showed global businesses worldwide could save £12.5 billion a year annually by providing 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave.

The analysis showed that recruiting and training new employees to replace women who left the workforce after having a baby cost £30.9 billion, higher than the £18.4 billion cost of the extra ­benefits.

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

''Women account for 35 per cent of our employees worldwide, but only 21 per cent of our international senior leadership team.

''We believe our new maternity policy will play an important role in helping to bridge that gap.

''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.''

Vodafone has a 100,000 strong workforce across 30 operating companies around the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe, and the US.

Until now, they had followed the local letter when it came to maternity leave. Some countries did not mandate paid maternity leave, and many - including the US - did not come close to the new four-month minimum of paid time off.

The Wall Street Journal reported that most the company's new moms were quitting in their first year back at work. According to Vodafone HR executive Sharon Doherty, who developed the policy, recruiting and retaining more women was a priority.

She told the WSJ that the company had been asking, what are the cultural, policy and leadership issues to make Vodafone more female-friendly.

According to commentators, it was also just smart business sense, a protection of an investment, when businesses lost $47 billion after a new mom left a company due to poor maternity support.

Even with paid leave for their 1,000 female employees, Vodafone anticipated a potential net annual savings of $19 billion as these women stayed with the company post-baby.