Ford revamps benefits in bid to become top employer

Ford  hopes to become employer of choice by
extending maternity and paternity entitlement, boosting wages and retaining
final salary pensions.

From
next year, the motor company will be offering one of the most generous
maternity entitlements around, Ford’s director for diversity Surinder Sharma
said.

Sharma
said Ford will extend the entitlement to 52 weeks full pay.

Two
years ago female employees at Ford were only offered 12 weeks maternity pay.
Last year the company extended this to 40 weeks full pay, but felt extending it
further would strengthen its position in the marketplace.

Sharma
said: “We want to become an employer of choice. We want more female staff, not
just in graduate positions but also in manufacturing.

“This
will help us recruit and retain more women. We are working in a very
competitive marketplace, and we need to attract more women to beat skill
shortages.”

Ford
has also enhanced paternity pay from 2 days to 10 days off on full pay, decided
to pay more into its employees’ final salary pension scheme and increase workers
pay by a minimum 7 per cent over two years.

Tony
Woodley, deputy general secretary of the Transport & General Workers’ Union
welcomed Ford’s move to improve pensions: "Here we have a major company
deciding it wants to take a different view on pensions to other firms,” he
said.

But,
despite positive steps, Ford promotional drive has been threatened by claims of
racism.

Sharma
said the company is currently investigating claims that Asian workers who
applied for prized jobs at the firm’s foundry in Leamington Spa were snubbed.

Of
seven employees – four white and three Asian – shortlisted for four fleet
truck-driving positions, only the white men were offered the jobs, even though
colleagues thought the Asian applicants were better qualified.

Sharma
labelled the claims a “misunderstanding” and said the investigation will end
soon.

By Quentin Reade

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