Why Providing Paid Maternity Leave is Good for Business
Paid statutory maternity leave was first introduced in the UK through the Employment Protection Act of 1975. The original legislation has since been extended with further revisions and now includes paid statutory paternity leave for expecting fathers. Whilst it is still not a legal requirement of corporations to provide any form of company paid maternity leave beyond the statutory provision, many companies have integrated maternity programmes into their employee benefits. This has ultimately come from a need to improve inclusivity and diversity within the workplace whilst ensuring no talent within the organisation is lost during or after pregnancy.
IBM is an excellent example of a company that has parental leave policies that go above and beyond the statutory amount, offering up to 20 weeks of paid maternity leave and 12 weeks of paid paternity leave. Whilst a multinational company will likely be able to offer a better maternity package than a small business, it is still relevant to look at why they offer such a good package.
Not all UK businesses currently offer maternity employee benefits. This is partially due to the misconception that maternity leave is just an expense to a company. Many organisations are unaware of the benefits of offering paid maternity leave to their employees.
The most significant monetary benefit to a business is avoiding recruitment expenditure. Replacing employees is expensive and time-consuming, especially for skilled workers. Some new mothers are sure they want to stay home with their babies, however, others are eager to get back to work (potentially a welcome break!).
However, many are undecided and the maternity package you offer will determine if that employee stays with your company or leaves. If the transition back to work after giving birth is too difficult, many will decide it doesn’t make sense to go back to work. As the employer, it is your responsibility to make the transition back to work as easy and simple as possible to ensure your employees feel comfortable and welcome. It is in your best interest to retain your employees.
Another benefit to maternity pay is it ensures a more diverse workforce. When you restrict the people in your workforce you limit the progression of the firm as a whole. Different people bring different perspectives, efficiencies, experiences, expertise, mindsets, attitudes, approaches and ways of thinking to the table. Idea generation is also limited when you lack diversity. It is always in a company’s best interest to diversify their team where possible. Therefore, if you don’t offer maternity pay you’ll likely attract fewer women. To attract the best talent you need to implement benefits that will be valued.
A further benefit of maternity pay is the positive image of the company this portrays to the public and potential employees. Companies that offer paid maternity leave are viewed as desirable companies to work for. Not only does it show that the company is forward-thinking but it shows that the organisation cares for their team and is passionate about improving gender inequality. This will attract better talent.
If you search online for the top-ranked companies in the world, parental leave will inevitably come up as one of the reasons for the ranking. Many UK publications have written articles specifically ranking the top UK businesses for parental leave. Good PR is good PR and this has been proven as an issue that is relevant and important to individuals. Prospective employees will research your company before deciding if they want to work for your organisation. Therefore, it is important that their first impression is a positive one.
Another benefit that is often overlooked is maternity pay is a massive relief to your staff! If your team can relax and enjoy this significant milestone in their life, they’ll be happier. When employees are happier they perform better. By supporting your employees not only will they stay with you but they’ll also thank you by being more productive. Happy, productive staff will lead to more revenue opportunities being generated. Don’t overlook the benefits of a happy workforce and start boosting your employees morale at work with this relief.
Of course, maternity leave is not going to be the main factor in every prospective employee’s decision whether to join your company. It may also not be a benefit your current employees are interested in at the moment. There are many benefits and perks that you may already offer your employees’ value more. It does also have a significant monetary burden on the company in that present moment. However, the maternity costs in most cases are always lesser than the recruitment costs to replace the employee. The bigger picture needs to be considered always in regards to parental leave.
However, planning a family is a significant period in any person’s life and therefore they will plan accordingly and research to find the best company to suit their needs. If you don’t accommodate to this you are guaranteed to not attract this talent.
In many cases, maternity packages make the difference between keeping an employee or losing them forever. It also helps create a more loyal and happy workforce whilst attracting better talent in the market. If you do bring in paid maternity leave, consider offering more flexible working opportunities alongside the leave to support your employees with their return to work whilst they adjust to their new family life. Regardless of whether you do decide to offer company maternity paid leave, you must always comply with statutory parental leave legislation.