Virgin Upgrades Its Parental Leave Policy

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On June 10, Virgin Management announced the company will allow all men and women to take fully paid, shared parental leave for up to a whole year. This new policy comes just two months after the U.K. introduced the Shared Parental Leave legislation, which allows both parents to take a combined 50 weeks of leave, either jointly or split into blocks (for example, 25 weeks off for one parent, followed by 25 weeks for the other). Their jobs are guaranteed upon returning, and their employers must pay them for 37 weeks of this leave. Virgin, however, is taking it "a step further," as founder Richard Branson puts it. Employees who have worked at Virgin Management for four years or more will receive 100% of their salary for 52 weeks of parental leave. Employees who have completed fewer than two years of service will receive 25% of their pay. It should be noted the new policy applies only to the 140 employees stationed in Virgin Management's London and Geneva offices. Progressive policies that offer family leave for both parents encourage men to play more equal roles in the child-rearing process. Countries like Denmark and Sweden have prioritized a "dual-earner" mentality, offering both parents 32 weeks of paid parental leave each. One reported advantage of such policies: stronger marriages. While the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act only grants women with full-time jobs 12 weeks of unpaid leave, many companies are starting to offer their employees better benefits. Vodafone announced in March it would give women 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. Paternity leave is more unusual, especially in the U.S. Google offers 12 weeks paid (18 if the father is the primary caregiver), and perks such as five days of free backup child care and $500 to spend toward "baby bonding." "If you take care of your employee they will take care of your business," Branson writes in the post announcing the new policy. "That is a philosophy that has served us well for more than four decades, and is the foundation of everything we do at Virgin."

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