Unicef UK has equalised parental leave for its 300 employees, with the aim of acknowledging and supporting the equal role of each caregiver, and adding to the legal provisions within the UK.
The new policy, which came into effect on 1 January 2020, also looks to shift the focus of caregiving responsibilities away from gender and sexual orientation, and to remove the link between parental leave policies and length of service.
The new parental leave policy at Unicef UK will provide 52 weeks of leave for all new caregivers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation; the organisation aims to provide birthing parents, non-birthing parents, and adoptive parents with continuous communication and a support network, in addition to equalised pay.
Unicef UK’s decision to enhance and equalise parental leave followed on from the findings of its 2017 research report, Early moments matter, which discovered that the UK is among the least family-friendly of the world’s richest countries in terms of policies.
In the UK, fathers are legally entitled to two weeks of paternity leave at a statutory rate of £148.68 per week; the report found that, due to financial restrictions, only 2-8% take this up. Parents are entitled to share up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of pay during the first year the child is born or placed with the family.
Martyn Dicker, director of people at Unicef UK, said, “We are keen to see policies like ours become the norm, and for the rights of caregivers and their children to be supported. I’m really proud that we are equalising parental leave for all of our employees in one policy.
“This is a genuinely important moment for us; it’s a big shift forward. It puts us in our rightful place as a sector leader in the way we support parents and caregivers to provide the best opportunities for children. I am hoping others will follow our example.”
Freddie Pite, senior corporate relations manager at Unicef UK, said “As a new father and Unicef UK employee, it’s great to know that our new parental leave policy will allow me to play my role in my child’s development and that this is recognised as important by Unicef UK.
“This is game-changing for a family as, thanks to this policy change, all caregivers will now get the chance to take an equally active part in raising our children, bonding with them and to help provide them with the best start in life.”