Family-related leave policies for the 21st century

Capco speaks to about its news pregnancy loss, fertility and menopause policies and its review of maternity leave.



Global management and technology consultancy Capco has joined other leading firms who have recently launched enhanced parental leave and policies on the menopause, pregnancy loss and fertility. 

Interestingly, it has decided, after reviewing uptake, to frontload its maternity pay given that many women do not take more than six months off.

Capco used to offer six weeks’ maternity leave on full pay, followed by 33 weeks on 60% pay. Now it offers 26 weeks on full pay followed by 13 weeks at a lower rate than before. All in all, however, there is a net gain for women.

For those going through menopause, fertility treatment and pregnancy loss, there are up to five days’ paid leave per year. Leave related to fertility issues, which covers partners as well as the person undergoing treatment, covers medical appointments and physical and emotional recovery. Leave related to pregnancy loss covers all birthing and non-birthing parents as well as parents using surrogates.

The new policies, which are part of its attraction and retention strategy, came about after a review of maternity policy and a benchmarking exercise with banks and consultancy firms. “There was a sense that we had to make sure we stacked up against other similar firms,” says HR Director Neil Hunsworth.

It turned out what they were offering was already competitive, but they decided to switch the maternity payments in recognition of women who decided to come back after six months feeling that they were leaving a significant amount of money on the table. “They wanted to come back after 26 weeks, but didn’t want to lose out on the maternity pay that they had not yet claimed,” adds Hunsworth.

Leave policies

As Capco HR managers were reviewing the company maternity policy, they picked up feedback from employees around issues relating to menopause, fertility and pregnancy loss. There was growing coverage of them in the media and an increasing number of coaches and consultants and interest in these areas. Capco had a leave of absence policy which was quite broad, including compassionate leave. It decided to adapt this policy rather than start from scratch to quicken the process.

“We picked up that people were doing one of two things due to the stigma around these issues. They were either using up their holiday, for instance, for IVF appointments, or taking regular days off sick. That meant we had no insight about what our people were experiencing because people were masking the reasons for their absence because of the stigma,” says Hunsworth. “People didn’t feel able to be open and seek support.”

He adds that having specific policies is a way to break that stigma down and bring the issues into the open so people feel more comfortable talking about them. This was backed up by senior leaders going through the perimenopause or menopause talking about the impact so that others in more junior positions felt able to open up.

The policies, which are for both partners in recognition that these issues are shared experiences, were launched on 1st October at a virtual town hall. The next step is to develop network groups, to broaden awareness of the policies and offer support or signpost to resources. Already Capco has shared its policies with BUPA which provides medical help for its workers, with the digital platform Unmind which it uses for mental health support as well as with the nutritionist who works on wellbeing. Other support is offered through its Employee Assistance Programme and My Family Care.

Capco is just one of the more progressive employers who are leading the way on these policies. This week TSB announced that it is introducing equal parental leave, miscarriage leave and support for infertility and menopause as part of a new package for staff. All new parents, including after adoption, will be able to take up to a year’s leave with their child.

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