If you are unsure whether or not offering enhanced benefits could work for your company or organisation, see below some of the pros and cons to consider! We’ve also included a recent case of indirect sex discrimination in the unequal provision of these additional benefits.
May improve retention of staff members with families.
If you go above and beyond for your staff, they may well stay with the business longer, as opposed to quitting and going elsewhere before having kids.
Alternatively, if you offer the bare minimum and a competitor offers a ‘bells and whistles’ package’, can you blame staff for wanting to jump ship?
Be seen as a great employer.
Being one of the few who offers enhanced family-friendly benefits can help you gain a reputation for treating your staff well. What usually follows on from a great employer reputation is that more people will want to come and work for you.
Affordability should not be overlooked.
It would be nice to provide an amazing ‘full-pay for X number of weeks’ package for staff, but how feasible is the cost to the business?
Furthermore, if the cost becomes too high what could be worse than withdrawing this benefit at a later date – thus upsetting your current staff who haven’t benefited from your previous generosity?
*Playing devils advocate of course, have you weighed the cost of providing these enhancements, against the cost of losing someone to a more generous competitor?
Alienating your non-parent employees.
FOMO (fear of missing out) isn’t just for holidays and events, it’s rife in employee benefits – what’s great for some is irrelevant for others.
Jealousy and bitterness can prevail unless you are sure to reward your child-less employees with great benefits too. Working from home Fridays, anyone?
Can I offer enhanced benefits for just maternity, or do enhancements have to be made to all family friendly leave/pay?
(Weighing up the risks and rewards here) we would argue that consistency is key.
A few recent legal cases have involved men claiming sex discrimination due to being unfairly left out of enhanced benefits for new mothers and not new fathers.
The most recent case being Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd (2017), who was only entitled to the minimum of 2 weeks paid parental leave, compared to an enhanced 14 weeks fully-paid maternity leave offered to female staff members.
The case is now in the court of appeal, so there is uncertainty over the outcome. However, this is a commonplace issue and will set a precedence for further potential claims going forward.
We should also bear in mind that in the case of Snell v Network Rail (2016), the claimant was awarded £28,321 for indirect sex discrimination because mothers were given a period of full pay on shared parental leave, whereas only statutory shared parental pay was given to partners.
Our advice here would be to play it safe and neutral. If you’re going to offer enhanced benefits to mothers, there should also be enhanced benefits reflected in your other family-friendly offerings. This should be reasonable and fair (and should keep the business out of trouble).