Human Resource policies that manage leave relating to maternal issues have been under immense scrutiny in the past few weeks. These growing conversations amongst civil society groups and state organs are impacting small and radical changes in public and corporate policies.
Effective 1 April 2021, Volvo Cars is offering 24 weeks parental for employees that have a child through;
- Foster care
- Non-birth parents of same-sex couples.
This is an all-inclusive policy that is opened to everyone, ” whether you’re a designer or a plant operator, whether you work in China or the USA.” South African Volvo Cars employees will enjoy this benefit as well.
“The ‘Family Bond’ policy will give all employees with at least one year’s service a total of 24 weeks of leave at 80% of their base pay by default and will apply to Volvo Cars’ 40,000+ employees in all plants and offices around the globe,” says Volvo Car SA.
Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director at Volvo Car SA says he is proud that SA is amongst the countries leading this global change. This leave scheme was firstly introduced in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) before extending to the rest of the world. When this scheme was launched in 2019, 46% of the applications were fathers.
According to SA legislation, fathers can only take up to 10 days of paternity leave, which is good progress from the previous legislation of three days.
Other countries have also been making strides in recent years. In 2015, the Labour Court in Durban ruled that gay men who have a child through surrogacy should be entitled to maternity leave. This was the same year the UK amended its laws to allow surrogate parents to take parental leave.
Volvo’s Family Bond can be taken anytime during the first three years of a child’s life.
A victory for single mothers
Fatherlessness is a big issue in SA, and more than 40% of households are led by single moms. The Basic Conditions Act (BCEA) of South Africa does not make it mandatory for employees to receive a salary during maternity leave. They claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which cannot guarantee payment at the time a single mother would need it.
Maruszewski says “we sympathise with these parents and we would like to provide them with some support during this very significant part of their child’s life.”
Head of HR Anna Frager says “we want to lead change in this industry and set a new global people standard. By opting all our employees into paid parental leave we narrow the gender gap and get a more diverse workforce, boosting performance and strengthening our business.”
The leave is not mandatory, but it’s encouraging for employees to know that the option is available.