Equal Parenting Leave: Can This Policy Reduce the Gender Pay Gap?

Last updated: 1 June 2023

When you think of parental leave, most of us would instantly think of women taking it. The argument that was given until recently was that mothers are natural caregivers, so it is only natural for them to take parental leave. But both sexes are just as capable of caring for babies and children. Not only men are capable of taking care of their children, but they would also like to be more involved in their family lives. On the other hand, a woman’s earnings rose by about 7% for every month of parental leave taken by their partner. This data points to parental leave being one of the main factors behind the gender pay gap. And even though equal parental leave is rare at this moment, some big companies have embraced it. Will this help with closing the gender pay gap?

Recently UK retail bank NatWest announced that they will be changing parental leave policies. From January 2023 new parents will be able to take off a whole year (52 weeks) regardless of their gender. Half of the year will be fully paid with an additional 15 weeks being covered at statutory maternity or paternity pay rates. This benefit will be available to all new parents, including adoption or surrogacy. Considering that the previous parental leave policy at NatWest was two fully paid weeks, this is a huge benefit for their employees. The whole idea behind it, is to make it possible for their employees to spend more time supporting their partners and their family.

There are more companies that are on a mission to become more inclusive and equitable. Especially in today’s economy that has been shaken by the Great Resignation, cost of living crisis, and inflation. Giving more benefits to employees can only help companies with attracting and retaining the best talent.

Some of the companies that embraced equal parental leave

Looking after employees and their well-being was the focus of Aviva, even before COVID-19 when other companies started to pay more attention to it. In 2017 Aviva introduced equal parental leave to all UK employees, whether they are full-time or part-time workers. If both parents are employees at Aviva, they are both entitled to the year of parental leave in which, they can take at the same time. Aviva’s Chief People Officer commented that equal parental leave is an important part of their culture and men taking parental leave have a better understanding of the choices female colleagues have to make. Since they have had this policy in place for a while, the latest published data was that equal parental leave is almost equal - 1,338 men and 1,385 women took it in the past years.

Spotify is one of the companies that is setting new trends when it comes to workplace policies. It is no surprise that this company announced equal parental leave at the beginning of 2016. Their employees are entitled to six months of 100% paid parental leave. On top of that, they are offering the seventh month for transitioning back, for both men and women.

Back in 2015, Vodafone changed its policy to a minimum of 16 weeks of fully-paid maternal leave and a 30-hour work week for the first six months after they return to work. This was very innovative back in time, but then in 2019, they decided to offer this perk to all new parents, regardless of their gender. Beyond parental leave, Vodafone also provides support to parents whose baby is born prematurely or those parents who lose their baby via miscarriage.

E-commerce platform Etsy decided to offer all employees 26 weeks of fully paid leave back in 2017. They embraced this to remain competitive and continue to attract top tech talent.

This is just a list of a few companies that are offering equal parenting, but there are many more - Dropbox, Netflix, Chanel, Lululemon, UNICEF, and more.

Can equal parental leave help with gender pay gaps?

It is 2022 and every company that wants to remain competitive is trying to embrace diversity. However, we are still facing the fact that women are paid less than their male colleagues. The pay gap among mothers gets worse, consistently for 12 years after the first child is born, and women receive 33% less pay per hour than men according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

On the other hand, men want to take care of their family and the lack of policies such as this one are not helping spread care duties among partners. This is where international companies can make an impact. Creating a culture that supports both genders equally is a benefit that will support a company on its path to becoming an attractive employer.


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EuroDev, established in 1996 with offices in The Netherlands, has a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. We have created a proven, successful business development model and since our founding, have partnered with over 500 companies to help them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing, and Digital Marketing.

Disclaimer: While we strive to provide accurate and timely information, please note that HR policies and regulations can change frequently. It is recommended that you seek guidance from our HR consultants to ensure that the data presented here is current and accurate.

Source: Unleash, Investment Monitor

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