Richard Branson Grants up to 12 Months Paternity Leave of Full Pay for new Fathers at Virgin


Sir Richard Branson does it again! One of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs and investors, best known for being the founder of Virgin, has unveiled a new policy, which will offer new fathers that work in the company up to a year’s paternity leave on full salary.

This extremely uncommon offer (if you live in the U.S.) exceeds the new system of shared parental leave that was recently unveiled by the Government, which enables new parents to divide 50 weeks of leave between them.

The full 12 months are being offers to parents at Virgin irrespective of gender, and includes the ones who adopt.

However, as with Sir Richard’s much-vaunted announcement of “unlimited” holiday for all staff, there are some things worth mentioning.

First and foremost, only employees who’ve worked for Virgin for the last four years are lucky enough to receive a maternity or paternity pay of 100 % of their wages. In case of newer recruits, they will get remunerated proportionately, from 25 % for less than two years of employment – still, that’s most likely going to be higher than the statutory deal.

Second of all, the offer will apply only for employees of Virgin Management, the overarching investment and brand licensing branch of the global Virgin Group. Thus, this means that it only affects circa 140 people employed at offices in both London and Geneva.

Nevertheless, Virgin Management CEO Josh Bayliss has hailed this new parental leave policy and has described it as “a ground-breaking move” and “something special for our staff”.

In a statement, Sir Richard Branson said: “If you take care of your employees they will take care of your business. 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. I’m delighted that we can offer this support to our staff so that they can enjoy parental leave to the full as we continue to our work in changing business for good.”

And since we’re on the subject, we’ve decided to touch upon the subject of parental leave. The other day, Susan, a business owner and good friend of the staff here at Entreprenoria asked us how much maternity leave she is required to offer her employees. So, we decided to write an article about parental leave given that in the U.S. it is still a sensitive subject.

Thus, if you live in the U.S., here’s what you need to know: In the 1970s the law underwent some changes, requiring employers to consider pregnancy in the same way they would treat any temporary disability. So, as a business owner, you are required to comply with the employee’s doctor as far as the time off work she will need to have her baby.

In some instances, women are given restrictions during the pregnancy period, for example activities in her job description that she is unable to do when she is pregnant, or her doctor tells her to stop work-related activities at a certain point in her pregnancy because of health reasons. Should one of the aforementioned scenarios ever happen, you are required by law to abide by what the doctor says.

As far as restrictions go, you should understand what that employee is able to do and what not and provide her work tasks within her restrictions. However, if you are unable to do this, you should probably send her home until either your company is able to accommodate with her restrictions or when her doctor removes the restrictions.

Usually, a woman who has given birth has a checkup six week after having the baby. Normally, at that time the doctor will offer her a release that says she is able to return to work. Bear in mind that in some instances it takes longer for a woman to recover, i.e. cesarean birth. Also, she should let you know about the projected return to the office date as soon as she knows it.

Although quite a large number of employers carry disability coverage or provide it to their employees at their expense, but you don’t need to carry or offer disability insurance for your staff.

Should you do this and if she is enrolled in the plan, she could potentially collect disability payments while she is required to stay at home by her doctor. You will not be required to pay her wage while she is out due to giving birth or pregnancy, except for whatever the employee manual at your company specifies for accrued vacation or sick leave. It’s quite common for women to save up all the paid time off work they could, to utilize it when they will leave work to give birth.

If your company is too small to be covered by the Family Medical and Leave Act, technically you are not required to give her more time off work than the doctor believes she needs for health reasons.

If your enterprises offers its employees medical insurance coverage, make sure you let her know her responsibility to pay for premiums for her coverage and when and how to do this before she goes on leave. While it is not required, a lot of employers pay their usual portion of the premium for the employee while she is giving birth.

In the US, federal law grants employees up to six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child and just 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

And to make matters worse, in order for you to be eligible for the paid leave, you have to work for a company with 50 more employees, to have worked for the company for over a year and be a full-time salaried employee. If you’re a freelancer or a contractor this doesn’t apply for you. Thus, 40% workers are not covered by federal law.

Let’s take for example Norway’s policy. It states that new parents in a partnership are able to take 13 weeks of paid leave each, on top of the standard 10 weeks of paid time off. Also, they are able to share up to 36 weeks off at 80% of their normal pay, in addition to 10 paid weeks.

And although the U.S. isn’t the worst country in the world for maternity leave, it’s still up there. Following a birth or an adoption, Americans are provided with up to 12 weeks of leave, but that time is unpaid. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Tunisia are the countries that rank below the U.S. in terms of length of maternity leave, but the time they do offer is fully paid.

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