Citi introduces shared parental leave to equalise support for working parents

Global bank Citi has spent more than a year devising its shared parental leave (SPL) policy to add to its comprehensive family-friendly benefits package, which is designed to help create an egalitarian workplace, retain talent and boost its employer brand.

Citi Group

The result is a package that offers up to 26 weeks’ fully-paid SPL for each working parent planning to share leave with their partner.

Carolanne Minashi, head of diversity, employee relations and employee engagement at Citi, says: “We ended up with a policy massively governed by our intention and priority around equal treatment.”

The organisation conducted an extensive staff survey of working parents who had taken maternity, paternity or adoption leave in the last three years in an effort to identify potential SPL take-up in the future.

It found that 20% of the fathers who had taken paternity leave would have been interested in taking SPL, and that 80% of women would have been interested in sharing their leave with their partner. 

The bank soft-launched its SPL policy in December 2014 by uploading the policy document on to its intranet site and running campaigns on rolling advertising screens next to its office lifts to raise awareness of the changes.

It has received 10 to 20 staff enquiries about the new regulations, but as yet no formal requests for leave.

Minashi says: “I think most people are on a fact-finding mission right now.”

The bank, which sees 5% of its 8,000-strong UK workforce become new parents each year, is offering SPL in addition to its existing family-friendly benefits, which include up to 26 weeks’ maternity leave and two weeks’ paternity leave, all on full pay.

The employer also offers staff flexible working, back-up childcare through working family service provider My Family Care, parent workshops provided by coaching firm Talent Talks, and healthcare support, such as phone-based health visitors, provided by Bupa.

It also runs training courses for managers with staff who are planning to take, are in the midst of, or are returning from parental leave, and funds a parent network, which runs sessions on topics such as parenting skills, for about 1,000 members.