Sir Richard Branson has become the toast of expectant parents worldwide, after unveiling a generous new policy for some of his Virgin staff, offering up to an entire year of fully paid leave for new parents. The scheme breaks new ground, but there are some catches.
As Australian parents continue to digest the impact of changes to the federal government’s paid parental leave scheme, the UK appears to be leading the way – and at the helm is Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
CNN Money reports that the UK has just introduced a new law giving new parents the chance to share 50 weeks of leave between them, 37 of which would be on partial pay. But the new Virgin scheme goes even further. The new policy applies to new parents, including fathers and those adopting children, paying their full base salary for an entire year.
“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,” Mr Branson says.
Here are the limitations:
- The scheme is only for the 140 staff working in London and Geneva for Virgin Management. The other 50,000 Virgin staff around the world miss out.
- Employees must have been at the company for more than four years to be eligible to take home full pay during their parental leave.
- Staff with less than two years of service can still get 25 per cent of their salary for the 52 weeks.
Ever the shrewd businessman, Mr Branson says, “If you take care of your employees they will take care of your business.”
There are indications that the policy may be expanded into the US.
International Labour Organisation standards indicate women should have access to 14 weeks paid maternity leave.