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Paternity leave policies becoming more inclusive globally

Organisations are expanding leave policies to include fathers, part-time employees and caregivers of parents

Almost four in 10 (38%) organisations globally now provide paid paternity leave above the statutory minimum, according to Mercer’s Global Parental Leave report.

The research found that Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific were the most father-friendly, as 41% of employers there offer higher paid leave than the minimum required by law. The Americas lagged behind, with only 33% of firms offering new fathers anything above the legal minimum.

Additionally, more organisations were found to be expanding leave policies to include fathers, part-time employees and those caring for their parents. While almost two-thirds (64%) of companies worldwide provide maternity leave for only the birth mother, 24% of companies provide this leave to the primary caregiver regardless of gender.

Among companies with a global policy, 19% covered all four types of leave (maternity, paternity, adoption and parental). While 54% of companies defined eligibility for paternity leave based on the birth father only, an additional 34% provided leave based on the broadest definition, such as birth father or secondary caregiver, regardless of gender.

Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Talent business, said he was encouraged that parental leave policies are expanding beyond traditional maternity leave provisions.

“With evolving gender roles and defining families to include same-sex parents, many organisations are modifying their parental leave programmes to accommodate their changing workforce,” he said. “Some employers are even expanding their policies beyond mandates since leave is becoming a valuable tool for finding and keeping the best talent and promoting equality.”

Bonic said there is a strong business case for providing all types of leave. “Parental leave policies can have a positive effect on both employees and employers – they help the workforce maintain a better work/life balance and they promote the company as a more attractive place to work, improving retention during a time of continued demand for highly-skilled talent,” he said.