Nearly three in four employers (72%) offer enhanced maternity pay, while fewer than two in three (64%) provide enhanced paternity pay, new research has revealed.
According to the Parental Leave and Family Support Benchmark, more than half (56%) of organisations have provisions for some form of inclusive family leave, which cover fathers as well as other parenting roles,
The study by nursery provider Bright Horizons and employee solutions company Back-Up Care’s also showed that 57% of organisations cited talent attraction and retention as the main factor influencing parental leave policy decisions, with inclusivity for working fathers listed by 43% as the second key reason.
The survey of more than 500 UK organisations aimed to find out about employers’ current provisions, as well as future plans, to support staff during three main life stages – the transition into parenthood, ongoing parenting and caring.
According to the figures, there has been a 13% rise in the number of organisations offering a minimum of 26 weeks of enhanced parental leave since 2021.
While the study suggests that many employers are recognising the business benefits of supporting parents and implementing more inclusive policies, just 15% are taking greater steps in offering provisions such as back-up care and childcare advice for new parents, despite 30% providing back-up care for existing mothers and fathers.
Denise Priest, executive director of Work and Family Solutions, believes the findings indicate that offering a wider range of employee support gives employers a competitive advantage.
She said: “More employers are recognising the need to step in and provide better support and understanding when it comes to family responsibilities.
“We’re seeing forward-thinking employers looking at what holistic support for career and family entails. They’re broadening the family support they offer – such as medical care, coaching, phased returns, childcare, back-up care and manager training, but there is plenty of room for growth.
“It’s also clear there is growing support for families at all stages of life, from new parents and parents of older children to carers of adults. For more than half of the companies surveyed, remaining competitive in the jostle to attract and retain talent is the key driver for these decisions. It’s the right thing to do for people and for business.”
Jennifer Liston-Smith, head of thought leadership at Bright Horizons, added: “Whilst these findings are promising, the models of best practice we’ve drawn up based on the results show 60% of employers only cover the basic requirements when it comes to parental leave. It’s important to note more can be done to support employees and the trailblazing options are there to see in the results.
“Businesses that are leading in this field are providing at least 26 weeks’ fully paid parental leave, access to medical advice and a coach or guide to support areas of growth. And for the 15% who have the competitive edge in the market, they offer employees access to Back Up Care (or care gap cover) and local childcare support.”