Norton Rose Fulbright extends policies for working parents

EXCLUSIVE: Norton Rose Fulbright has extended its parental policies for its 1,100 UK-based employees.

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The law firm has simplified its parental policies and made sure they are consistent for all of its lawyers and service staff. All female employees are now entitled to 28 weeks maternity leave at full pay.

Sacha de Klerk, diversity and inclusion manager at Norton Rose Fulbright,  said: “Previously, it had been structured in a complicated way.

“People got a certain number of weeks on full pay, then they had a certain number of weeks at 75% of pay and then 50% of pay and then 25% of pay, and then they had a return-to-work bonus system, which was divided into installments.

“We decided to simplify it and make it consistent for everyone.”

This latest change comes two years after the organisation first launched a full review of its maternity policies and practices.

De Klerk added: “We looked at our maternity returner rate and our maternity retention rate, and we were keen to improve on those.

“We didn’t feel they were where they should have been. The review was part of the process to find out what the issues were, and one of the issues that came up were our policies.”

A number of other changes have been made as a result of the review, including:

  • Paternity pay has been increased from one week on full pay to two weeks on full pay.
  • The adoption policy, which previously just offered statutory pay rates, has been changed so that it mirrors the maternity and paternity pay policy.
  • There are new provisions for surrogacy arrangements.
  • Provision for time off for fertility treatment is included in the maternity, paternity and adoption policies.
  • The maternity coaching programme has been extended to include service staff, rather than just lawyers. It includes a pre-leave session, during-leave session and a returners’ workshop to help integrate women back into the workplace.
  • A new parent pack, which includes information about the policies, as well as other benefits, such as how childcare vouchers really work and making the most out of keep-in-touch days.
  • A pilot workshop on managing parent transitions for managers.

Norton Rose Fulbright has seen a 14% increase in post maternity leave retention over the two years since it started the review.

De Klerk said: “You can have amazing policies, but if they aren’t implemented properly, you aren’t going to achieve any results.”

The new policies are being communicated to staff via the intranet and directly to managers via email.

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“We did loop back in with employees who were part of the review, so we did some focus groups and had an online survey,” added De Klerk.

“We communicated the changes with the people who participated in the survey and the focus groups.”