O2 increases paid paternity leave to 14 weeks

Mobile network O2 has increased paid paternity leave for all permanent staff to 14 weeks, which it claimed is among the best paternity packages on offer to retail workers.

Previously, its paid paternity leave policy was restricted to the traditional two weeks, but the company said it wanted to ensure that all employees have the support and flexibility to spend time with their new family.

The extended paternity policy, effective from today (1 April), is available for all permanent staff, not just those in its head office. Adoptive and surrogate partners are also covered, as well as same-sex couples.

Ann Pickering, chief HR officer and chief of staff at O2, said: “Giving new parents the flexibility to spend more time at home when having a child is part and parcel of modern-day parenting.

“We know that families come in all shapes and sizes and understand the importance of ensuring that we give all new parents the opportunity to spend valuable time supporting their new family. We don’t want our people to feel as though they have to choose between their career and bringing up a family.

“We are committed champions on flexible working which is key for promoting a more diverse, balanced and inclusive culture. We’ve seen that encouraging flexible working has a direct impact on motivating and retaining the best people, as well as attracting top talent to our business.”

To qualify for the extended paternity leave, staff must have worked for O2 for a minimum of 26 weeks, 15 weeks before the baby is due to be born or for 26 weeks before they receive notification of being matched with a child. The company’s maternity and adoption policies remain unchanged.

This week marks four years since the government launched the right to take shared parental leave, allowing new parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. The government recently launched a campaign to improve uptake, which is thought to be low.

Last year insurer Aviva UK reported that almost every new father opted to take more than the statutory two weeks’ paid paternity leave since it enhanced shared parental pay to the same level as maternity pay in 2017. Two-thirds of eligible fathers took six months off, while 95% took more than two weeks’ leave.

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