Top UK employers urged to disclose parental leave and pay

The number of 'beacon' firms when it came to openness on parental leave policy has risen.
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Major employers like Tesco, AstraZeneca, Morgan Stanley, Dyson, Boots and Virgin Media are failing to tell candidates about pay and benefits for working parents, according to new research. But the small number of leading ‘beacon’ firms in terms of transparency – including EY and Unilever – has increased

The 2020 Parental Fog Index found over the past 12 months there was a small increase – from 18% in 2019 to 24% in 2020 – in the number of employers that published detailed policy details, including pay and duration of parental leave and flexible working arrangements.

However, the report, published by the Executive Coaching Consultancy (ECC), which helps organisations improve gender diversity, also found that the total number that publicised generic (32%) or no details (44%) of parental benefits fell from 82% in 2019 to 76% this year. The companies mentioned above were all in the lowest, “invisible” category.

This was the second yearly benchmark by ECC of the transparency of parental benefits of Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, as published on their websites.

The study, which placed employers into five categories of visibility, rated 9% of employers in its top “beacon group” up from 4% last year. In addition to publishing full details of parental policies, these employers actively market their support to working parents as core to their employer brand. Among the leading organisations offering good transparency were Unilever, which had improved its ranking from “visible”, Santander, EY, PwC, KPMG, Civil Service and Deloitte.

The study’s minimum measure of transparency around arrangements for working parents was “fully visible” but 76% of employers still languished in categories below this level. “Visible” accounted for 32%, “foggy” (18%), and “invisible” (26%). All of these companies, said ECC, would rise to “fully visible” with just one change to their websites: the addition of parental policies, including terms of pay and duration.

The authors said that while a total of 21 companies improved their ranking year-on-year, 12 organisations fell in their ranking showing that while transparency for parental benefits was slowly improving.

Geraldine Gallacher, CEO of ECC said that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, “leading employers understood that a key battle ground in attracting the best talent was the perceived family-friendliness of their organisation.”

She added that by being completely transparent about parental pay and benefits at the start of the recruitment process, “the beacon organisations identified in our report are clearly demonstrating that they are a place where people can progress their careers after starting a family”.

Gallacher argued that the quality of information on parental benefits would be an “increasingly critical tool in attracting and retaining the right talent to thrive and compete”.

She warned that for those who failed to be transparent, the report was a call to action to improve the visibility of basic information around pay and benefits or businesses risked missing out on talent because “candidates may shy away from a recruitment process where questions about parental benefits might call into question commitment to their career.”

Part of the aim of the original report was to help employers prepare to meet the requirements of the Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements (Publication) Bill, which was eventually timed out by Brexit votes so did not progress in parliament. However, the key recommendation of the bill, that companies with 250 plus staff publish an annual statement of their employees’ entitlement to parental leave, including statutory pay, and any pay and benefits they’d get while on parental leave, was subsumed into the government’s Good Work Plan.

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