Press Release | 20 Jan 2022

New research from Vodafone finds one-in-five younger workers in the UK have quit their job due to poor parental leave support

New research from Vodafone reveals the cost to businesses of having poor parental leave.

  • New research by Vodafone UK shows that employers who do not offer sufficient parental leave risk losing top talent.
  • A quarter of 18–34-year-olds did not apply for a job as a result of a perceived lack of support for parents. 
  • Vodafone urges Government and employers to review parental leave policies and ensure they meet the expectations of younger workers.  
  • Vodafone’s Global Parental Leave Policy offers all non-birthing parents 16 weeks of fully paid leave, allowing for more equal caring responsibilities for both new parents. 

One-in-five (18%) 18–34-year-olds has quit their job due to poor parental leave policies, with a further 25% of younger workers saying they decided not to apply for a job because they thought the employer’s parental leave policies were inadequate.

The findings are part of a study – ‘Lost Connections: Supporting parents and caregivers in the workplace’ – commissioned by Vodafone, which argues that employers should be transparent about the benefits they offer to new and expectant parents and caregivers to ensure they attract and retain the top talent.

The research, which includes an Opinium poll of over 2,000 adults [1], highlights the growing importance of strong parental leave policies among the British public, and especially those aged 18-34. This is particularly important as it shows that people place importance on an organisation having good parental leave policies even before having children, as the average age for non-birthing parents is 34.

Key findings:

  • More than a third (37%) of people, and more than half (55%) of 18–34-year-olds, would be more likely to apply for a job if they knew the employer had good parental leave policies.  
  • More than one-in-10 people (12%), and one-in-four 18–34-year-olds (25%), have decided not to apply for a job because they thought the employer’s parental leave policies were inadequate.
  • More than half (52%) of people, including two-thirds (64%) of those aged 18-34, agree that parental leave policies are a useful indication of whether an organisation is a good employer, even if they are not planning to have a baby themselves. 
  • Around one-in-10 people (9%) have turned down a job offer because they thought the employer’s parental leave policies were inadequate. This doubles to more than one-in-five (21%) 18–34 year-olds.

These findings clearly demonstrate the value of employers offering enhanced parental leave policies, and the positive impact this could have on attracting and retaining young talent and creating a better working environment for all employees. 

The report makes recommendations for both the Government and employers on how to provide greater support for new parents and caregivers in the workplace. This includes advice on flexible working practices where possible, reviewing the effectiveness of shared parental leave, considering whether the statutory right to take up to two weeks of paternity leave is still fit for purpose and providing the digital tools for employers to support flexible working. 

Vodafone’s Global Parental Leave Policy offers 16 weeks of fully paid leave to all non-birthing parents, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or length of service, allowing for more equitable caring responsibilities and minimising the impact on the careers of new parents.

This is in addition to Vodafone’s Global Maternity Leave Policy that offers women across all markets and operations up to 26 weeks’ full pay during maternity leave and the opportunity to work 80% of hours for full pay for the first six months after their return to work.

Clare Corkish, HR Director, Vodafone UK said: 

“Employers have everything to gain from giving their employees the right support when they become parents. Improving parental leave is the right thing to do and it makes good business sense. Prospective employees look closely at how employers treat new parents, and they act on what they see.

“If employers want to attract the best talent, they need to create a great place to work and robust parental leave policies are one of the best ways of showing this.

“Vodafone believes that supporting new parents makes a better working environment for all of our employees and helps support more equal caring responsibilities for both parents. We offer a minimum of 16 weeks of fully paid leave to all employees and support a phased returned to work after their child arrives by working for 30 hours a week for the first six months back at work at full pay.” 

Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said:

“The challenge of combining work and parenting is not a new one, but the findings of this survey are really stark. We have to do better in supporting new parents in the workplace, to make sure they can progress with their careers as well as being brilliant parents. 

“I am pleased to see a leading company like Vodafone really embracing the challenge and working out how it can support its staff better.”

Professor Rosie Campbell, Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, said:

“This new report published by Vodafone shows us that providing high-quality parental leave is no longer an additional perk offered only by the most progressive employers. It is now an essential requirement for recruiting and retaining a generation of colleagues who expect to find equality in the workplace and will vote with their feet if they don’t.” 


Notes to editors 

The poll findings are part of a new report for Vodafone UK by WPI Strategy, Lost Connections: Supporting parents and caregivers in the workplace. An accessible version is also available.

All UK employers are currently required by law to provide 39 weeks of paid maternity leave, with the first six weeks paid at 90% of an employee’s salary. For the remaining 33 weeks, mothers are paid £151.97 a week. This is the same for paternity paid leave which is two weeks’ leave paid at £151.97.

[1]  A subsequent poll of 2,007 UK adults, including 1,217 workers, was carried out by Opinium in July 2021 

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

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