Diageo introduces 26 weeks of paid parental leave for UK staff


Global alcoholic beverage supplier Diageo has introduced a new parental leave policy for its 4,500 UK employees, enabling male and female staff to receive 26 weeks of leave at full pay.

The policy, implemented on 3 April 2019, allows employees in the UK to take 52 weeks of parental leave, with the first 26 weeks fully paid. Prospective parents will be able to utilise the leave regardless of gender or sexual orientation, or whether they are biological or adoptive parents, or if they have a child through surrogacy.

The parental leave is available for all UK staff, including 3,100 employees based in Scotland who primarily fulfil manufacturing roles.

Mairead Nayager, chief HR officer, said: “True gender equality in the working world requires fundamental changes to a broad range of working practices, including a shake-up of the policies and cultural norms around parental leave.

“[This] announcement is about matching ambition with action and supporting all of our [employees], regardless of gender, to experience the joy of raising a young family, while continuing to thrive at work.”

The benefit has been launched in support of Diageo’s work on gender equality and its ambitions to create a fully inclusive and diverse workforce; the organisation aims to remove barriers to career progression and ensure that talent is retained and nurtured.

The new policy further strengthens the business’ return-to-work initiatives, which include providing keeping in touch days, parental coaching, flexible working policies and access to free independent counselling.

The policy was communicated to employees via email, on-site posters and using videos of employees who are currently pregnant or who have a partner who is expecting; these filmed the reactions of parents-to-be when informed about the new policy. The videos have been shared on internal social media platform Yammer.

Previously, Diageo’s maternity leave provided 16 weeks of leave at full pay, while paternity leave gave fathers-to-be one week of leave at full pay.

Penny Mordaunt, minister for women and equalities, added: “I’m delighted to see Diageo making this move. Shared parental leave gives both mums and dads the chance to spend quality time with their child in the important first months of their life, creating a bond that will last a lifetime.

“Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces. Action like this is exactly what we are encouraging as part of our forthcoming strategy, which will aim to empower every woman in the UK to achieve their true potential.”