O2 extends paid paternity leave to 14 weeks for 6,500 staff members

ann pickering O2

Telecommunications organisation O2 has extended its paid paternity leave to 14 weeks for all 6,500 of its permanent employees.

The new policy, effective from 1 April 2019, enables all permanent employees at O2 to take 14 weeks of leave at full pay, applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as adoptive and surrogate partners.

Permanent staff working in O2’s retail stores are also able to utilise the fully paid paternity leave provision.

O2 enhanced its paternity leave to support its flexible working culture and to ensure that all permanent staff have the support and flexibility to spend time with their new families, providing the opportunity for male employees to take a greater share of caring responsibilities, if they wish.

Ann Pickering (pictured), chief HR officer and chief of staff at O2, said: “Giving new parents the flexibility to spend more time at home when having a child is part and parcel of modern-day parenting.

“We know that families come in all shapes and sizes and understand the importance of ensuring that we give all new parents the opportunity to spend valuable time supporting their new family. We don’t want our people to feel as though they have to choose between their career and bringing up a family.”

Previously, O2 provided a maximum of two weeks’ paternity leave at full pay. The organisation’s maternity leave remains unchanged; new mothers are able to take up to 39 weeks of fully paid leave, whether they are birth or adoptive parents.

To support its family-friendly leave arrangements, O2 operates a career returners programme, now in its third year. This helps to boost the confidence of individuals returning to the workplace after a career break, most commonly taken to care for family.

All (100%) of the latest intake of the career returners programme have accepted roles within O2; most of these are full-time positions, with employees utilising the organisation’s flexible working programme in order to balance home and work life.

Pickering added: “We are committed champions on flexible working, which is key for promoting a more diverse, balanced and inclusive culture. We’ve seen that encouraging flexible working has a direct impact on motivating and retaining the best people, as well as attracting top talent to our business.”