Laing O’Rourke launches equal parental leave

Laing O'Rourke foregoes £1,000 government retention bonusEngineering and construction firm Laing O’Rourke has launched equal parental leave for its 10,000 employees across the UK and Australia, regardless of how they become a parent.

From October, all staff will have access to at least six months of parenthood leave at full pay, whatever their gender, and whether they achieved parenthood by birth, surrogacy or adoption. In addition, any employee or whose partner or surrogate has suffered a loss of pregnancy is eligible for up to two weeks of paid leave, effective immediately.

The business has also introduced a phased return-to-work policy, allowing staff to gradually return by working 80% of their hours at 100% pay, the equivalent of a four-day week, for 13 weeks.

Rae Avatar Barnett, head of the people function, Europe at Laing O’Rourke, said: “We believe that families, whatever their structure, should be entitled to spend valuable time with a new child. And in the case of pregnancy loss, take the time they need away from work.

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“This industry-leading approach to equal parenting will allow us to create better gender balance, and shape an organisation that attracts, supports and retains the most talented people. Leave to celebrate, adjust and grow the family unit should become as much the norm for partners as it is for the mother giving birth. With no differentiation given to gender or how people become parents, this also provides more support to adoptive parents and our LGBTQ+ community.”

Ray O’Rourke, chief executive officer at Laing O’Rourke, added: “We value modern and diverse family structures and new opportunities that balance careers and childcare. I’ve always been an advocate for innovation and modern methods of construction, and those approaches should not just be in the technical ways we work but in the ways we recruit, deploy, reward, and support our people. No matter who you are or how your family comes about, at Laing O’Rourke we’ll take care of your career while you do what needs to be done at home.”