Unicef UK equalises parental leave for all employees

15 Jan 2020 News

Unicef UK has announced equalised parental leave policy for all employees. 

The charity implemented this policy to acknowledge “the equal role of each caregiver in raising a child, shifting the focus away from gender, sexual orientation or length of service, and puts it on the child and the time spent with them during those early moments.”

The move comes after Save the Children announced last November that it had increased its paternity leave from two weeks to three months at full pay.

The new equalised parental leave policy at Unicef UK will provide 52 weeks leave for all new caregivers.

This applies to all caregivers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation allowing those who are pregnant, expecting a child but are not the pregnant parent, or adopting.

The pay caregivers receive during their leave with also be equalised.

All Unicef UK employees who qualify are entitled to paid Early Moments leave (parental leave). This is paid at different rates during the first 39 weeks of leave. The rates are set and leave starts to run from the date the employee chooses to go on leave or the child’s birth or adoption date, whichever is earlier. The rates are as follows:

  • For the first six weeks of leave the employee receives their full pay
  • From weeks seven to thirty the employee receives half of their full salary
  • From weeks thirty-one up to thirty-nine the employee’s weekly pay mirrors the statutory parental leave  pay rates as set by the UK government
  • The remaining thirteen weeks of leave are unpaid

Statutory parental leave pay refers to the rates set by the government to which new parents who qualify for statutory maternity, paternity/partner, adoption or shared parental leave pay are entitled, and not parental leave as referred to in UK’s Parental Leave Regulations.

Martyn Dicker, director of people at Unicef UK, said: “We are keen to see policies like ours become the norm and for the rights of caregivers and their children to be supported. I am really proud that we are equalising parental leave for all of our employees in one policy.

“This is a genuinely important moment for us - it’s a big shift forward. It puts us in our rightful place as a sector leader in the way we support parents and caregivers to provide the best opportunities for children. I am hoping others will follow our example.”

In the UK, the government provides Statutory Paternity Pay for a maximum of two weeks, at a flat rate of £148.68 per week or 90 per cent of average weekly earnings, whichever is less. Parents are entitled to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay during the first year the child is born or placed with the family.

The estimated take-up by eligible fathers is currently only between 2 to 8 per cent, with financial reasons cited as the main obstacle.

Freddie Pite, senior corporate relations manager at Unicef, said:  “As a new father and Unicef UK employee, it’s great to know that our new parental leave policy will allow me to play my role in my child’s development and that this is recognised as important by Unicef UK.

“This is game-changing for a family as, thanks to this policy change, all caregivers will now get the chance to take an equally active part in raising our children, bonding with them and to help provide them with the best start in life.”

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