Virgin Introduces Parental Leave Policy For Mothers And Fathers That Is Absolutely Amazing

Parental leave in the US is often kind of joke, but across the Atlantic is another story. For instance: the new maternity and paternity leave policy at Virgin, which is generous even by the already higher standard set by laws in the UK. New parents, whether moms or dads, get up to 12 months of paid leave under the policy, and although there are a few catches, it's still pretty sweet.

In the UK, the law now allows both moms and dads to split up to 50 weeks of maternity/paternity leave after the birth or adoption of a child, with the first 39 weeks being paid leave. Couples can split the time however they see fit, making it not only a fairly generous national policy, but also a gender-neutral one. However Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, which now comprises over 400 companies, says that employees will now be entitled to a full year of parental leave, all of it fully paid.

"If you take care of your employees they will take care of your business," Branson said in a statement. "As a father and now a granddad to three wonderful grandchildren, I know how magical the first year of a child’s life is but also how much hard work it takes."

The policy does come with a few catches. The full year of paid leave is only available to employees who have been with Virgin for at least four years, with newer employees getting less paid time away. And more significantly, the policy only applies to Virgin Management, not to every person employed by Virgin Group. According to The Independent 's calculations that only shakes out to about 140 people between their London and Geneva offices.

But still, in the context of maternity and paternity leave policies here in the US, such a thing is unheard of for anyone. On this side of the pond, America is one of only three countries on Earth to not offer any paid parental leave at all. The law guarantees both mothers and fathers the right to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without losing their jobs, but since it's unpaid, many people can't afford to take advantage of it.

This leads to companies like Facebook or Google feeling really good about themselves when they go above and beyond this bare minimum, but overall, their policies still pale in comparison with what's guaranteed in many other countries, and especially in comparison to Virgin's new policy.

So basically, if we ever want US companies to offer their top employees these same kinds of perks, we need to start by raising the baseline and make paid parental leave a legal requirement, for the sake of both mothers and fathers.

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