Maersk Group offers improved maternity benefits

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The company will allow all onshore employees to work 20 per cent less at full contractual pay, for up to six months— after they return to work, post childbirth or adoption— apart from 18 weeks of maternity leave and one week of paternity leave.

Maersk Group, which employs over 3000 women in India, across its several business units, has introduced a new maternity and paternity benefits. The new policy, that will come into effect from April 4, 2016, includes a programme allowing a phased reintegration to work and a global guaranteed minimum of 18 weeks’ maternity leave on full contractual pay for all employees, subject to local workforce regulations. As per the current maternity leave policy in India, women can avail 12 weeks of paid leave.

In addition, the company will allow all onshore employees to work 20 per cent less at full contractual pay for up to six months after they return to work post childbirth or adoption.

“This new policy supports our aim to retain talented women working in the Group, and attract even more; to gain access to future and wider talent pools, and strengthen our business results,” says Geetha Sreenivasan, global finance process head, GSC.

A research conducted for the Maersk Group by KPMG suggests that maternity leave policies have an influence on the labour market participation by contributing to higher employment rates of women.

Worldwide, the Maersk Group employs over 23,000 women. Over the last three years, approximately 500 women have gone on maternity leave each year, of which only 70 per cent joined back or continued working with the Group.

The company believes that the new policy will improve terms for women working for Maersk, in at least 51 countries out of the 130 in which the Group operates, compared to the statutory minimum.

In the US, more than 1,200 women employed will be eligible for 18 weeks of paid leave compared to their current paid leave, which is typically 6 weeks. In Panama, the typical 12 weeks of paid maternity leave will now be 18 weeks.

Of the women who left the Group after taking maternity leave, 80 per cent left within the first 12 months of their return. The phased return will enable women to enjoy a smoother transition back to work and contribute to increased retention.

“When implemented, the new policy will strengthen our efforts to retain talented women, while at the same time result in additional benefits to the Group, for example, via reduced hiring costs and productivity loss. Our aspiration is to reach a global best practice maternity retention rate of 90 per cent over time,” says Lucien Alziari, head of group HR.

The 18 weeks are optimal for the Maersk Group from a cost/benefit perspective, as well as for the employees as this is in line with the latest recommendations from the International Labour Organisation on maternity benefits.

Women quitting work due to childbirth is a global problem, and based on previous analyses conducted by KPMG, it costs global businesses $47 billion every year to recruit and train new employees to replace such women.

Depending on local laws, the Maersk Group’s new policy may provide some paid leave for the primary caregiver of the new child, either male or female.

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