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Stephen Hunt - Law on the Web

  1. 09 April 2015
  2. Employment
  3. 0 comments
Pregnant woman

Telecommunications company Vodafone has recently taken the step of offering the same maternity terms to all of its staff worldwide, including a minimum of 16 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave.

A study by KMPG indicated that business could save up to $19bn annually through such a provision.

The policy will have more impact in some places than others, depending on the local laws. The countries of the world vary greatly with respect to the amount of paid maternity or paternity leave employers are required to offer by law, from those that offer none at all to those that offer multiple years of holiday with at least some imbursement.

Countries which offer little maternity benefit

Many Vodafone staff will be enjoying much better terms than the local statutory entitlement in their country.

In the United States there is currently no guaranteed period of paid maternity leave for mothers. There is however a provision of 12 weeks of unpaid leave, on the condition that the employee must have worked for the same business for a year and accumulated at least 1,250 hours of work. The company must also employ at least 50 people.

Having said that, there are many states within the US that grant more benefits on top of the aforementioned national standard. In some areas the conditions are also less strict, with a total of 14 states having reduced considerably the size of firm requirement from 50 employees down to 10.

Other nations in which Vodafone operate where the national provision by law stands at less than 14 weeks are Kenya, India and Qatar.

Countries where mothers enjoy generous maternity benefits

Vodafone employees in many countries, particularly some in Europe, will not be affected as their government already guarantees them more generous terms.

Vodafone employees in Germany, Albania and Romania already enjoy over a year’s paid leave, so the new policy will make little difference to them.

Some other countries in Eastern Europe are particularly generous in this regard, allowing mothers to take a break lasting multiple years in order to be ever-present in the early stages of their child’s life. For example, in Hungary, mothers are allowed to take up to three years off while receiving some benefits.

Whether other companies will follow Vodafone’s lead and introduce global maternity leave entitlements for their employees remains to be seen, but such a trend could only be a good thing for female employees.

To find out more about maternity leave entitlement in the UK, please visit the maternity leave page within our Employment section.

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