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Agency Wellbeing Census: Minimal full-time pay for paternity leave is ‘disappointing’

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By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

September 28, 2022 | 5 min read

The Drum’s Agency Wellbeing Census reassures us that support for employees taking maternity leave is commonplace, but falls short when it comes to paternity leave and help with childcare.

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The Drum released the findings of the Agency Wellbeing Census this week / The Drum / The Drum

Unlike other countries, such as the US, the UK does enforce statutory maternity leave. Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, and the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave,’ – however pay can vary significantly according to circumstances.

According to The Drum’s recent Agency Wellbeing Census, which surveyed over 200 companies in the UK, the vast majority (76.1%) offer 52 weeks maternity leave at a mix of full pay, 90% and statutory. Among the agencies which offered maternity leave at full pay, 12 weeks was the average number of weeks on the table.

However, while the UK also permits paternity leave of up to two weeks, the amount of pay provided to fathers during this time is at the employer’s discretion. Of the agencies surveyed, the most common allowance for paternity leave was two weeks, with 52.69%. Most men also received full pay during this time.

However, Lorraine Jennings-Creed, director of wellbeing services and culture change at industry support network Nabs. says “It’s somewhat disappointing that two weeks’ paternity leave is the amount of time for which most men receive full pay. If we’re to support women staying in our industry and progressing in it, then we have to create as many support mechanisms as possible. One of those mechanisms is longer paternity and co-parenting leave, and not just offering it, but normalizing the take-up of it.”

The survey revealed that 88.48% offered shared paternal leave and 91.05% ‘keeping in touch’ days or training days for returnees, but it also highlighted that greater workplace support for parents is still required. Despite rising childcare fees coupled with the cost of living crisis pushing working parents out of advertising, less than a fifth (18.42%) of the agencies surveyed will help parents with childcare costs.

Jennings-Creed says that “At Nabs we offer 12 weeks’ paid partners’ leave which can be taken anytime during 52 weeks from when their baby is born. Over the past couple of years, this has been utilised by team members and has provided families with options such as the other partner being able to return to work, helping in turn their careers and household income levels, and both parents being off together, helping with essential bonding time and for addressing things such a lack of sleep.

“We found that shared parental leave is complex and didn’t suit our teams’ needs. While it is available for staff, take-up is non-existent. From a DE&I perspective, companies also need to recognise the wide range of parents and family models in society and to offer policies that encompass this and offer specific support, for example, adoption policies or policies to support those going through surrogacy. Each pathway to parenthood is different, and by offering support tailored to those pathways, we can include parents from all walks of life in our workplaces.”

In the UK, employees will also still qualify for leave or pay if the baby is stillborn after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy, or if dies after being born. However, many agencies may wish to extend this policy to both parents or the circumstances under which leave can be taken in the event of a miscarriage.

Explore more of the findings from our Agency Wellbeing Census here.

Work & Wellbeing Agency Culture Agency Wellbeing Census

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