Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, recently announced that parents working for Virgin Management will begin receiving up to one year of paid parental leave after the birth of a child, at up to 100% of their base salary. This policy offers new parents – especially fathers – substantially more than any other leave policy in the world.
Though this parental benefit is revolutionary, it does come with stipulations. Virgin employees are only eligible for full compensation if they have been with the company for four years; those who have been with the company for less time are compensated at lower rates. Also, this policy cannot be taken by only one parent (for example, a father whose partner is a stay-at-home mother). The policy only applies to parents who share leave time, as part of Britain’s new shared parental leave and pay policy.
Though Virgin’s policy only applies to employees in the U.K. and Geneva, Branson says he hopes to expand the policy to U.S. employees in the near future. Even if the policy isn’t rolled out in its entirety on this side of the Atlantic, it would be a radical shift from current U.S. parental leave practices.
Currently, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world without mandated paid parental leave. Though some companies offer individual leave policies, even the most generous – such as Google, where new parents can take up to 12 weeks with pay – pale in comparison to Virgin’s.
While it would be nice for businesses in the U.S. to improve their leave policies, federal legislation requiring paid leave would provide these companies with much needed incentive. Though some states individually mandate paid leave, most states, including South Carolina, do not, leaving working parents unprotected and vulnerable when they have a new child.
It’s time the U.S. caught up to its international peers. Until then, it’s nice to see some companies taking strides to encourage the wellbeing of their employees. They understand what we all should know by now – happy employees are good for business.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees who need to take unpaid leave from work because of personal or family medical needs or other important matters. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee who takes FMLA leave. For FMLA claims in South Carolina, contact Greenville’s employment lawyer Andy Arnold at 864.242.4800.