Sodexo UK and Ireland is equalising parental leave and enhancing employee benefits for its workforce.
The company plans to boost maternity, adoption and paternity paid leave for its frontline and salaried staff to 18 weeks of full pay to “provide time, flexibility and financial support for important life moments”.
Many of the enhanced benefits will be available from an employee’s first day at work and most of them will be implemented by September 2023.
The move is part of a number of improvements introduced by Sodexo as part of its bid to achieve a flexible first culture for its workforce. It wants to support all staff to balance personal and work commitments, rather than solely focusing on those with caring responsibilities.
Raj Jones, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: “We are committed to an inclusive, equitable workplace for all. By introducing these enhanced benefits, many as a day one right, we are making progress in this commitment and in our ambition to create a culture of flexibility and recognition of what all colleagues need to juggle outside of work.
“We, as business leaders need to hold ourselves accountable for making change happen. This new suite of enhanced benefits, particularly those that equalise parental leave, is a part of our strategy to narrow our pay gaps by offering both parents the same flexibility and financial support to take time off for childcare. This could enable more women to come back to work sooner.”
Other new benefits or enhancements include leave for various appointments such as antenatal IVF, surrogacy or adoption. Neonatal leave and time off for family care givers – including grandparents, foster carers and those with legal parental responsibility or special guardianship – are now also covered.
Salaried and frontline employees will additionally benefit from enhanced life insurance, with the minimum life assurance cover being a lump sum equal to an individual’s base salary. Staff will also be entitled to apply for flexible working from their first day of employment, while they will also be offered more time off for bereavement.
Sean Haley, CEO Sodexo UK and Ireland, added: “Our colleagues are at the heart of our business, and we remain committed to supporting them as much as we can. We are delighted to launch a wide range of enhanced benefits including for our frontline colleagues. It is our ambition that all our colleagues feel they belong to a company where they can act with purpose and thrive in their own way. We know there is a lot of work still to do and we are clear in our goal to create an inclusive and equitable workplace for all.”
The company, which is working on achieving menopause friendly employer accreditation, has also signed up to endometriosis friendly employer scheme.
Diana Gilmore, relationship manager at Working Families, said: “It has been a pleasure to help Sodexo develop their family friendly policies this year and a joy to see them build on our advice. They have succeeded in creating a progressive new portfolio of support for their staff with caring responsibilities and embedding a family friendly, flexible working culture that is central to their organisational values and strategies. I am delighted to be in the lucky position of tracking their progress, watching them grow as an inspirational employer, supported by their committed DEI team.”