You might say the parental-benefits bandwagon has just charged into the world arena. Copenhagen, Denmark-based Maersk Group announced recently that, starting April 4, it will be implementing a new global guaranteed 18-weeks-minimum, fully paid maternity leave for all its female employees.
Worldwide, the maternity policy would affect more than 23,000 employees. Once implemented in the United States, it will boost the current six-weeks leave to 18 for more than 1,200 women. It will also improve terms for women working for Maersk in at least 51 countries.
In addition, it will include a return-to-work program, giving onshore employees the opportunity to work 20 percent fewer hours at full contractual pay within the first year of birth or adoption.
“This new policy supports our aim to retain our talents and attract even more in the future — this way, strengthening our business results,” says Michael White, president and CEO of Maersk Line North America.
Maersk Line’s Asia Pacific Chief Robbert Van Trooijen, in a recent story on Seanews.com, says the new policy “supports our aim to retain the talented women working in the group and attract even more to gain access to future and wider talent pools … .”
The move was predicated on research conducted for Maersk by New York-based KPMG suggesting maternity-leave policies have an influence on the labor-market participation by contributing to higher employement rates of women.
The move doesn’t mark a first in the recent march by large, big-name companies to enhance parental-leave benefits in an effort to boost retention, reputation and employer brand. A search of this HRE Daily site yields numerous posts about this march, some might say race, to board the parental-leave bandwagon. So too does a search of HRE‘s website, HREOnline.com.
So will there be more bandwagon jumpers globally, what with Maersk leading the charge? I put this question to Kenneth Matos, senior director of research for the New York-based Families and Work Institute. What he had to say is worth sharing, particularly as it applies to HR leaders:
“I do believe that more multinationals will be pursuing improved maternity-leave and other benefits policies. One, because centralized and standardized benefits programs are easier to manage than a grab bag of varied policies impacted by an array of international legal frameworks. Offering everyone a high-end multinational program is easier to manage, avoids lawsuits from accidentally violating a country’s laws with a policy legal in another country, and avoids organizational culture clashes as employees around the world compare their benefits.”
He goes on:
“I believe that a single, affordable, multinational benefits program is the holy grail of the benefits industry. Second, there has been a recent wave of organizations attempting to outdo each other on employee benefits. The battle for talent is reigniting as the predicted retirement boom begins to pick up steam — reducing the size of the workforce –and more jobs require uncommon skills that take years of education or experience to cultivate — a major problem for a shrinking labor force.
“Organizations will want to be seen as leaders and many HR executives and benefits teams should prepare for calls from senior executives to benchmark their benefits programs against their competitors. It is essential for HR executives to keep cool heads and examine their benefits in terms of what their people want and need rather than offering extensive benefits just to make a social or political statement. Especially if the organizational or local cultures will suppress the usage of these elaborate offerings or interest will wane over time and leaders might call for a reversal if the benefits structure doesn’t work for their organization and staff.”
Sounds like advice worth heeding, or at least considering.