Vodafone Ireland is boosting support for employees with caring responsibilities with immediate effect, the business has announced.
From this month (May), the telecommunications company’s staff can benefit from up to 10 days of additional paid leave if they are caring for someone who is vulnerable, regardless of whether they are a family member. This can be taken flexibly as needed and equates to 75 working hours.
The business, which has around 1,200 employees in Ireland, is offering the time off as part of a range of new measures, which also includes the option to request flexible hours or hybrid working.
According to Vodafone, its ‘Caring for Vulnerable Others’ support “goes beyond caring for family members” and is designed to allow leave for those who are playing a principal role in caring for someone, recognising that “loved ones are not just within a person’s nuclear unit and may comprise of close friends or neighbours”.
Noelle Burke, HR director at Vodafone Ireland, explained that while existing workplace supports allow for a degree of flexibility, there is no specific support for those with caring responsibilities.
She said: “When I see the research that half of carers feel they are being held back from promotion and that by 2030, one in five in Ireland will have a caring role outside of work, I can see that more awareness and workplace supports are needed for this valuable group of people.
“So, I am delighted to introduce our new paid leave for carers which will empower and provide our people with the flexibility to care for their loved ones without the need to compromise their careers. We appreciate that caring for a loved one, be it a child, parent, close friend or neighbour can be especially difficult when juggling a career, however our new support aims to ease some of the stress faced by carers while taking the stigma out of asking for help.”
Currently 3% of Vodafone Ireland’s workforce are carers. The business believes that the current Statutory Carer’s Leave of between 13 and 104 weeks of unpaid leave for full-time carers is not suitable for employees with long-term caring responsibilities who want to carry on working. For this reason, it will not limit support to those caring for people with a serious illness and and the 10 days of leave will cover hospital appointments, therapy sessions and more, giving carers flexibility without them having to take unpaid leave or time away from work.
Burke added: “Vodafone has proudly led the way on supports for employees at all stages of their life cycle. Going forward we are proud to continue our enduring sustainable, inclusive and award-winning cultural supports to reflect the world of work of today and tomorrow.”
Other enhanced policies provided by Vodafone include 26 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, with returning mothers being paid for five days of work a week, despite only being required to work four, for six months.
In 2021, it introduced 16 weeks of leave for all non-birthing parents, offering qualifying employees the option of a phased return from parental leave by working 30-hour weeks at full pay for six months.
The company also has support provisions for those experiencing domestic violence and menopause, while its fertility and pregnancy policies provide flexibility and paid leave, with a range of additional services and training.