O2 extends paid paternity leave to 14 weeks

  • All of O2’s permanent employees will be offered 14 weeks’ full paid paternity leave from 1st April
  • The updated policy builds on O2’s successful flexible working culture and gives partners the opportunity to take a greater share of caring responsibilities at home
  • Retail employees can also take up this three and a half-month entitlement, making it one of the best paternity policies in the retail sector

O2 today announces it will increase its paid paternity leave to 14 weeks for all permanent employees, effective from 1st April 2019.  The new policy, which moves away from traditional two-week paternity policies, has been introduced to ensure all partners have the support and flexibility to spend valuable time with their new family.  The extended paternity policy covers heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as adoptive and surrogate partners.

New parents working in the mobile network operator’s retail stores will also be entitled to the three and a half-month extended paternity leave with full company pay, one of the best packages offered to retail workers. Some high street retailers restrict the benefit of longer paternity leave to head office employees only.

O2 previously offered a maximum of two weeks’ paid paternity leave. Employees taking maternity leave will continue to be entitled to take up to 39 week’s paid leave and the same amount of adoption leave.

A report published last year by Incomes Data Research highlighted that only 9% of employers offer more than the two-week statutory paternity leave entitlement to employees.[1]  O2’s updated paternity policy demonstrates the mobile network operator’s commitment to drive equality in the workplace and is the latest in a series of steps to empower employees to balance their careers with their family life. O2 is a champion of flexible working and encourages its head office staff to work flexibly and does not set prescribed working hours.

Ann Pickering, Chief HR officer and Chief of Staff at O2 said: “Giving new parents the flexibility to spend more time at home when having a child is part and parcel of modern-day parenting. We know that families come in all shapes and sizes and understand the importance of ensuring that we give all new parents the opportunity to spend valuable time supporting their new family. We don’t want our people to feel as though they have to choose between their career and bringing up a family.” 

“We are committed champions on flexible working which is key for promoting a more diverse, balanced and inclusive culture. We’ve seen that encouraging flexible working has a direct impact on motivating and retaining the best people, as well as attracting top talent to our business.” 

Building an employment model that works for all 

O2 has also pioneered a Career Returners programme which helps to bring men and women who have taken a career break, typically to care for their family, the confidence to return to the workplace.

Now in its third year, 100% of the latest cohort have taken roles within O2 with nearly all of those being able to take full-time positions due to the company’s flexible working programme enabling them to balance home and work life. 

[1] Maternity and paternity pay 2018 report, Incomes Data Research