Vodafone Supporting Employees at Every Life Stage
23rd February 2022
Vodafone Ireland has today announced new fertility and pregnancy policies which include extended leave for those dealing with fertility treatment and pregnancy loss as well as their partners. Vodafone are also announcing changes to their maternity leave policy, offering the same maternity leave for surrogacy. The announcement marks another significant step in Vodafone’s commitment to ensuring employees are supported through every life stage.
The new policy includes extended paid leave of ten days for those impacted by pregnancy loss (when this occurs prior to 24 weeks, after this full maternity leave applies), inclusive of whether the loss occurs to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother. Vodafone recognises that each case may require different support depending on the situation, and additional leave will be offered, alongside hybrid and flexible working.
In relation to fertility treatment, Vodafone Ireland is offering ten paid working days leave per annum for those directly undergoing fertility treatment and two days paid leave for partners of those having treatment. Additional flexibility regarding leave will also be offered depending on the situation, as well as hybrid and flexible working, allowing employees time to attend appointments as needed.
Surrogacy can be often overlooked in maternity leave policies and Vodafone Ireland will mirror the full 26 weeks paid maternity leave for the surrogacy intending parent (primary caregiver).
In addition, Vodafone Ireland will provide preparation leave of ten paid working days leave for prospective parents to attend preparation classes and/or meetings with further flexibility available dependent on the situation.
Vodafone Ireland continues to offer 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave to all non-birthing parents whose baby is born, adopted, or born through surrogacy (non-primary carer) and a six-month ramp on period where an employee works 80% of the working week but receives full pay.
Vodafone Ireland’s market leading policy is flexible allowing partners to take the leave when and how they want to within the first 18 months of the birth, adoption or surrogacy of their child. The company is also increasing the maternity leave offering for all retail full-time and part-time employees from 16 weeks to 26 weeks full pay and aligning with the surrogacy leave policy, a unique offering in the retail industry.
The business engaged with external experts including The Rotunda Hospital, as well as its employees, to explore the challenges faced when on the journey to having a family – including those undertaking fertility treatments as well as pregnancy loss and has developed new policies that seek to address these issues. In addition, Vodafone Ireland is also offering leave for employees who are partners of those affected.
Expert advice and employee feedback indicates that many hide their fertility journey from their employer as they feel it is a taboo topic for the workplace as well as fearing career implications.
Vodafone Ireland is seeking to address this by opening up the conversation around the journey to having a family.
Supporting these changes, Vodafone Ireland has committed to educating employees internally and breaking taboos through employee information sessions with dedicated experts and the development of an employee toolkit which will provide useful information and guidance on how to support employees through their family journey. Through the Employee Assistance Programme, there will also be employee and partner counselling and advice for those who wish to avail of the service.
Other pioneering programmes implemented by Vodafone include a progressive global menopause commitment, flexible working policies, parental leave that supports families to share caring responsibilities in the home, ReConnect to attract talented women back to the workplace, and a ground-breaking Domestic Violence and Abuse policy.
Anne O’Leary, CEO, Vodafone Ireland said: “Today’s announcement highlights our ongoing commitment to supporting our employees through all life stages. We know the road to parenthood may not be easy and so we have developed these additional policies for our employees here in Ireland. Our approach encompasses both the highs and lows, ensuring we are there for our employees through fertility treatment, pregnancy loss, surrogacy as well as maternity and parental leave. Inclusion for all is a key pillar of our purpose and by creating these enhanced policies, we hope to build a culture of openness and break down the stigma associated with fertility treatment and pregnancy loss.”
Ciara Merrigan, Co-Founder, Irish Families Through Surrogacy shared the following feedback when reviewing Vodafone’s surrogacy leave policy “At a time when there is no specific legislation for surrogacy in Ireland, and the emotional journey which commissioning parents go through,
Vodafone Ireland is taking a leadership role in offering a market leading surrogacy leave policy for its employees. Their policy provides the required flexibility during the surrogacy journey and recognises the need for adequate time off to bond with and care for their child once in their care.”
Pictured is Anne O’Leary, CEO, Vodafone Ireland alongside Vodafone Ireland employee Clodagh O’Hagan and Frank O’Hagan (1). (pic. Marc O’Sullivan)