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Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

The Most Progressive Maternity Policy We've Seen Yet

PUBLISHED ON 03/10/2015

Reduced hours on a full salary? Sixteen weeks of paid time off, minimum? It's the maternity leave policy of dreams. And one telecommunications company is making it worldwide company policy by the end of the year.

Vodafone Group announced a global minimum for its maternity leave policy on Friday, mandating all 30 of its companies to offer at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. How does that stack up to America's current policy? Considering we're the only developed nation that doesn't mandate paid maternity leave, it knocks it to the ground.

Vodafone joins a few other companies, like Yahoo and Facebook, in offering 16 weeks of paid leave. While US companies are required by law to hold a parent's job for 12 weeks after birth, none of that time is required to be paid. It's all up to the company. And you're only eligible if you and your company qualify under the Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA); companies with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt.

Vodafone's not stopping there. In an effort to improve retention rates, new moms will be able to work 30 hours a week during their first six months back from leave, while maintaining their full-time salaries. No negotiating with a manager; no taking a pay cut along with the time cut.

This initiative comes after Sharon Doherty, the Vodafone director who crafted these policies, took a hard look at female leadership and retention rates in the company. About 35 percent of Vodafone's employees are female, and only 21 percent are part of the senior leadership team. Plus, 65 percent who left after maternity leave did so within the first year. Doherty noticed that retention rates were higher in Italy, Portugal and Romania — countries with mandates to help women transition back into the working world after maternity leave. "That led me to ask more questions and find out why," she told the Washington Post.

While who qualifies for these new benefits will vary slightly by country, Vodafone confirms US women will be eligible for both the 16 weeks PTO and the reduced hours. But there aren't too many of them; only 500 of the company's 90,000 employees work here.

(via the Washington Post)