The insurance company Aviva is offering equal parental leave for men and women, with six months’ pay across the board, in a move that is meant to eradicate career impediments for female staff.
Parents employed by Aviva will be offered the same benefit of up to a year’s leave, with 26 weeks of basic full pay “regardless of gender, sexual orientation or how they became a parent”.
It opens the door for not only biological parents but those using a surrogate or opting for adoption.
The move has been hailed by unions for helping progress equality and diversity in the workplace. Andy Case, a regional officer for Unite, said: “Unite believes that the parental leave policy announced today is market leading and represents a significant and positive step forward for equality in the workplace.
“We are keen to hear our members’ comments on this positive initiative, which we will feed back to Aviva management as part of our ongoing dialogue on equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Aviva is launching the policy in a handful of locations, including the UK, Ireland, France, Singapore and Canada, for those employees who became parents on or after 19 November, before extending it to its other businesses within the next year.
However, it said the amount of time off and resulting pay could differ by country. UK staff will be offered up to 12 months off – half of which will be paid.
The policy will be available to any employee regardless of the amount of time they have worked at Aviva or how much they earn.
Part-time employees are also eligible, and there is no requirement to share leave between parents even if they both work for the insurer.
The Aviva chief executive, Mark Wilson, said: “I want to live in a world where the only criteria for success is someone’s talent, not their gender. Treating parents equally will help make this happen.
“We want Aviva to be a progressive, inclusive, welcoming place to work. It’s good for our people and it’s also good business sense.”