It's called ‘maternomics’

It's called ‘maternomics’

Vodafone New Zealand implements global policy for compulsory 16 weeks fully-paid maternity leave.

Vodafone New Zealand is implementing from next month a bold new maternity policy providing 16 weeks of full paid maternity leave.

In addition, the primary caregivers who return to Vodafone within 12 months will receive full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months.

Vodafone Group is one of the first organisations in the world to introduce a mandatory minimum global maternity policy.

Calling it ‘maternomics’ the idea is it makes sense for businesses to provide women with a minimum of 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave.

Vodafone wants to attract and retain talented women and recognises that providing a compelling maternity policy is key, says Vodafone NZ CEO Russell Stanners.

“At the moment, 37 per cent of our employees in New Zealand are female, with women making up 38 per cent of our senior leadership team. We believe this new maternity policy will play an important role in helping to increase those figures.”

Vodafone wants to attract and retain talented women and recognises that providing a compelling maternity policy is key.

Russell Stanners, Vodafone

He says through the new policy, Vodafone estimates a working parent could save around $1800 in childcare in their first six months back and be able to spend an additional 240 hours with their child.

Soon-to-be mothers will be offered 16 weeks pro-rata paid leave, through an improved company initiative that tops up the government’s Paid Parental Leave to full pay.

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The move coincides with the increase in Paid Parental Leave being introduced by the New Zealand government on 1 April, which is also when Vodafone’s new policy comes in to effect.

Stanners says global research shows two factors make a difference in increasing the likelihood of women returning to work and staying: Longer maternity leave and more flexibility at point of return to work.

“We will have the best mums working for us,” he concludes.

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Calculating maternomics

Despite what you might initially think, we foresee this maternity leave package having a very positive impact on overall productivity, says Antony Welton, human resources director at Vodafone New Zealand.

Welton says research by KPMG shows recruiting and training new employees to replace women who do not stay in the workforce after having a baby costs NZ businesses $85 million a year.

Offering women 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, rather than the statutory minimum would cost businesses in New Zealand $30 million.

If these businesses were to retain more women in the workforce after their maternity leave, they could save up to $55 million a year, and keep the knowledge and experience of these women in the organisation, states Welton.

It makes sense for New Zealand, it makes sense for our business.

Antony Welton, Vodafone

“Clearly it is much more expensive to go and recruit and retrain and get somebody else to be productive as an already productive mother who happens to go on leave.”

He says anywhere between 20 to 35 per cent of women who go on maternity leave at Vodafone don’t come back due to a lot of factors.

He says this policy will encourage them to come back. “It makes sense for New Zealand, it makes sense for our business.”

The maternomics initiative will help drive Vodafone’s commitment to ensure a diverse workforce, and to support women into leadership posts, says Welton.

We have also undertaken a range of initiatives to encourage women in the technology sector, he says.

One of this is the Women in Technology Group established in 2011. The program includes staff visiting schools encouraging young women to consider a career in the sector.

Vodafone also has gender diversity targets for its graduate recruitment – 50 per cent of participants in the program are female, he says.

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