Parent-friendly policies boost maternity return rates

2005

Telecoms giant BT has announced that 99 per cent of women return to work at the company after taking maternity leave, more than twice the national average figure of 47 per cent.

BT directly attributes this success to a generous maternity package, widespread adoption of home working and a flexible approach to work patterns.

The company offers its female employees the opportunity to take up to a year paid maternity leave and a range of flexible working arrangements following the birth of their child.

This allows mothers to meet the demands of their job while spending as much time as possible with their child.

Its maternity package includes 18 weeks' basic pay and regular allowances (excluding overtime) followed by eight weeks at half pay or lower-rate Statutory Maternity Pay or £106 per week (whichever is the greater), followed by 26 weeks at £100 per week.

Fathers can also take two weeks paid and two weeks unpaid paternity leave as well as having the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working flexibly.

"The return to work rate is outstanding for a company of our size," said Caroline Waters, director of BT People & Policy.

"Supporting the parents in your workforce isn't difficult, disruptive or expensive it's just plain business sense."

Exchanging their BT salary for childcare provision can cut parents' costs by up to 30 per cent. The company also offers discounts negotiated with leading nursery providers

Some 10,000 BT people are currently homeworkers, with many others taking advantage of the range of flexible working options available, such as term-time working, job sharing and part time working.

The company says that it encourages all employees, and in particular new parents, to use its flexible working policies to support their work-life balance.