Volvo Cars will opt its employees in South Africa into an all-gender, paid parental leave policy from 1 April 2021.
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.
The policy applies to either parent and the leave can be taken anytime within the three first years of parenthood, it said.
The ‘Family Bond’ policy includes all legally registered parents, including adoptive, foster care and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents of same-sex couples.
Some countries do not offer any paid leave to new parents, or exclude certain groups of parents – the latter is particularly true for fathers.
Greg Maruszewski, managing director at Volvo Car South Africa, said the company is also proud to be offering its employees far more than is required by South African law.
“According to South Africa’s latest parental leave laws – which were signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa and took effect from 1 January 2020 – all parents (including fathers, adopting parents, and surrogates) are entitled to 10 days of unpaid parental leave when their children are born.
“Thanks to our Family Bond programme, parents employed at Volvo Car South Africa won’t only get considerably more time off work – but they will also receive compensation,” he said.
Maruszewski said that the fact that employees will receive 80% of their base pay will be especially significant to single parents in South Africa – of which there are many.
According to research conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council and the South African Race Relations Institute, 60% of SA children have absent fathers, and more than 40% of South African mothers are single parents.
“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,” said Maruszewski.
He believes that the extra days of leave – 24 weeks versus 10 days – will also send a clear message that Volvo Car South Africa cares for its employees and their families.
“The leave is not mandatory, but we do want to create a culture where our people feel safe and supported to take the time should they so choose. We’re encouraging parents to take this time to bond more with their families,” he said.