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Why we’re introducing equal Parental Leave in the UK

When I had my first child my life changed overnight. No number of books (trust me, I read plenty!), antenatal classes or knowing glances from friends who had already taken the plunge into parenthood could prepare me for what was to come. It was an experience like no other.

I really treasured those first few months with my new family and that feeling didn’t diminish when I was lucky enough to have my second child. It is with these fond memories at the front of my mind that I’m incredibly proud to announce that, from today, all our Associates in Mars Wrigley, Mars Food and Mars Petcare (excluding Veterinary Health) will be able to take up to 26 weeks of parental leave paid at 90% of their salary

Our parental leave policy, which is one of the first of its kind in our industry, will cover men, women, those who identify as non-binary, same-sex families and people who are adopting. All parents are able to take up to 52 weeks of leave with a maximum of 26 weeks of this paid as independent individuals.

This policy is another step in the right direction in our pursuit of a truly equal and inclusive workplace. The evidence around the benefits of shared parental load is overwhelming, with one recent study finding that when a father works flexibly and shares childcare, his partner is almost twice as likely to progress in her career. This isn’t about women becoming mothers, it’s about people becoming parents. We want to equalise the experience of men and women at work when children are born by sending a clear message: all parents, and family dynamics, are equal.

I’m proud of our parental leave policy but our work hasn’t finished and it’s not time to down tools. We know that across Britain many people still feel there is a stigma attached to taking time out to be with your family. In fact, a recent national study uncovered the stark statistic that only 2% of those eligible to take parental leave did so in the 12 months leading up to March 2018.

Thankfully, the picture isn’t the same at Mars. But we’re not complacent and are committed to facing into ingrained attitudes around parental leave head on. In addition to our leave policy, we have invested in parental coaching, a COVID-specific family leave policy and continued investment in flexible working policies for all. I am firm in my belief that taking parental leave is not just good for the individual and their families, it’s good for business. It really is a win-win.

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