79% of employers offer enhanced maternity leave pay

New data has highlighted that almost four-fifths (79%) of employers now offer staff enhanced maternity, adoption and surrogacy leave pay above the statutory minimum.

Nursery care provider Bright Horizons’ Parental leave benchmark, which included almost 700 responses from sectors in the UK and Ireland such as financial, and legal and professional services, found that this is an increase of 22 percentage points since the previous issue of the study in 2017.

The findings revealed that employers are increasing the range of benefits they provide to encourage staff retention, and career progression and satisfaction.

Two-thirds (67%) of organisations currently offer enhanced paternity or partner leave pay, compared with just 44% back in 2017. The number of those providing enhanced shared parental leave pay has almost doubled in the past four years, from 25% in 2017 to 48% in 2021.

Furthermore, the most frequent maternity and adoption pay enhancement is now 26 weeks’ full pay in sectors such as banking, professional services and technology. In sectors where talent retention is crucial and packages are at the top end, the research highlighted that businesses are combining enhanced pay with programmes of coaching, childcare and other supports.

Denise Priest, director of employer and strategic partnerships at Bright Horizons, believes that ensuring more parents return to work after taking parental leave makes sense for businesses, as it reduces recruitment costs and keeps valuable knowledge in the business.

She explained that the research shows the competition between companies has “really stepped up” in the past four years regarding this area.

“Interestingly, the majority who offer enhanced paternity leave still offer just two weeks at full pay. However, 21% now offer more than this, compared to only 9% who offered more than two weeks in 2019. This could be a good area for companies looking to differentiate themselves from competitors and steal a march on talent,” Priest said.