Swedish automaker Volvo Cars announced that it is increasing paid parental leave to 24 weeks for its more than 40,000 employees around the globe, regardless of gender.
Both hourly and salaried employees who have been with the automaker for at least one year are eligible for the new “Family Bond” program, which began April 1, the company said in its release. Employees who take the full 24 weeks will be paid 80% of their base compensation and the leave can be taken anytime within the first three years of parenthood. Employees can also opt for 19 weeks of paid leave at 100% of their base pay within 36 months of becoming a parent.
“We want to create a culture that supports equal parenting for all genders,” said Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo. “When parents are supported to balance the demands of work and family, it helps to close the gender gap and allows everyone to excel in their careers. We have always been a family-oriented and human-centric company. Through the Family Bond program, we are demonstrating and living our values, which in turn will strengthen our brand.”
The global policy is more inclusive and supportive than many existing policies around the world, and includes all legally registered parents, including adoptive, foster care and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents in same-sex couples, Volvo noted.
“Volvo’s Family Bond parental leave program does a lot more than just give new parents more time,” said Scott Cawood, CEO of WorldatWork. “Because it is for all employees, regardless of gender, it will ultimately help narrow pay gaps, boost inclusion, celebrate diversity and help build an even stronger bond between employer and employee, which is essential to remain competitive at a time when work and life well-being are at a premium.”
The carmaker said its new global policy was inspired by national legislation in its home market of Sweden, which is renowned for its generous parental leave arrangements. It follows a parental leave pilot program launched in its Europe, Middle East and Africa region in 2019, in which 46% of all applicants were fathers.
The United States is still without a national paid parental leave policy, but employers in the country have made tremendous strides offering this coveted benefit. WorldatWork’s “Paid Time Off/Paid Parental Leave Programs and Practices” survey conducted in March 2019 found that 52% of organizations offer paid parental leave to some or all new parents, regardless of their short-term disability offerings. In its “2020 Inventory of Total Rewards Programs & Practices” survey fielded in November 2020, 61% of organizations said they offer paid parental leave.
Volvo’s new parental leave program is among the most comprehensive in the automotive industry. For example, General Motors and Stellantis offer U.S. salaried employees up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for new parents, while Ford Motor offers up to eight weeks. Ford’s is in addition to the six to eight weeks available to birth mothers.
“This is more than a new parental leave policy for our employees — it is the embodiment of our company culture and values,” said Hanna Fager, head of corporate functions. “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.”
Volvo piloted the program in its Europe, Middle East and Africa region in 2019 and during that time, 46% of the participants were fathers. The automaker said the positive results from the pilot convinced leadership to implement the program for all its employees.
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.