Vodafone Ireland has announced its commitment to employees that act as carers, with a new support for employees caring for a vulnerable other. Not limited to a family member, the support available to all employees,provides those caring for a vulnerable person with 10 additional days’ paid leave while also providing additional support such as, flexible start and end times and hybrid working. This is the latest in a range of initiatives by Vodafone to support employees through all stages of life.
Vodafone’s new ‘Caring for Vulnerable Others’ support is a first of its kind in Ireland that goes beyond caring for family members and is designed to allow leave for those who are playing a principal role in caring for someone and recognises that ‘loved ones’ are not just within a person’s nuclear unit and may comprise of close friends or neighbours.
The Statutory Carer’s Leave provides between 13 – 104 weeks unpaid leave for employees to take on a full-time caring role, but this is not suitable for employees with long-term caring responsibilities who wish to continue working. On that basis, Vodafone’s new support will not be limited to those caring for people with a serious illness and the 10 days leave will cover everything from hospital appointments to therapy sessions and gives carers the flexibility and peace of mind to look after their loved one without having to take unpaid leave or time away from work. Vodafone’s 10 days paid leave support can be taken flexibly to best suit the employee and their loved ones’ needs and equates to 75 working hours.
Elaine Kelly, Large Business Propositions Manager at Vodafone Ireland, and champion of the new support commented; “I am so proud to champion our new ‘Caring for Vulnerable Others’ support. As a primary carer for my thirteen-year-old son Daniel, who has autism, and long-time advocate for autism awareness and supports through Vodafone’s DiversAbility Network, I proposed this initiative to our senior management, and it was well received from the get-go. Working with our HR team, I wanted to design a workplace policy that supports Vodafone employees through all stages of life, including those times when you are playing a principal role in caring for a vulnerable loved one, be it a child, parent, close friend, or neighbour – setting it apart from the caring policies for family members only that other companies offer.
“This kind of support will make a massive difference to me and my family. While Daniel was diagnosed at the age of four, the therapies required for him are ongoing including intensive Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy, which generally take place during the working week. This new support comes at a great time and will give me the flexibility to choose therapy slots that suit Daniel and not the other way round. Back in 2020, I also championed a project which saw the introduction of autism-friendly hours in our stores across Ireland. It is fantastic to be part of a company that provides an open and supportive environment when bringing these supports to fruition and that understands that life is not always straight forward and that we need to make allowances for all in society”.
Vodafone hopes to raise awareness of the responsibilities of working carers and the new support was underpinned by recent research from Family Carers Ireland which showed that of the carers in Ireland, 250,000 are juggling a career alongside their caring responsibilities and over half (55%) of carers have been forced to give up on full time employment to care for a loved one. Half of carers say that their caring responsibilities are holding them back from promotion, along with 41%?of working mothers saying that being a parent to a child with disabilities is holding them back from promotion.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy at Family Carers Ireland said; “We would like to commend Vodafone Ireland on this very progressive and innovative support for employees caring for a vulnerable other; and in particular for their generous 10 additional paid days leave for this cohort of workers. We have no doubt that this initiative will provide employees juggling care in the home with their careers with a much-needed lifeline as well as great flexibility in terms of how and when they use these additional supports. It will also help to lift the stigma that often exists for many carers in terms of having that first conversation with their employer about their caring roles. We would encourage other employers to follow suit and put in place practical and tangible supports like these that will enable carers to remain in the paid workforce whilst caring.”
Noelle Burke, Human Resources Director at Vodafone Ireland, said; “While existing Vodafone workplace supports allow for a degree of flexibility, there is no specific support for those with caring responsibilities. When I see the research that half of carers feel they are being held back from promotion and that by 2030, 1 in 5 in Ireland will have a caring role outside of work, I can see that more awareness and workplace supports are needed for this valuable group of people.
“So, I am delighted to introduce our new paid leave for carers which will empower and provide our people with the flexibility to care for their loved ones without the need to compromise their careers. We appreciate that caring for a loved one, be it a child, parent, close friend or neighbour can be especially difficult when juggling a career, however our new support aims to ease some of the stress faced by carers while taking the stigma out of asking for help. Vodafone has proudly led the way on supports for employees at all stages of their life cycle. Going forward we are proud to continue our enduring sustainable, inclusive and award-winning cultural supports to reflect the world of work of today and tomorrow”. ?
Vodafone has been first to the market with several people centric supports designed to promote a culture of flexibility and understanding at all stages of life, with the aim of creating a supportive environment so all employees can develop and progress in their careers. Vodafone has a market leading maternity leave policy with 26 weeks?fully paid. In addition to this, returning mothers work a four-day week but get paid for five days for the first six months. In 2021, Vodafone announced 16 weeks leave for all non-birthing parents – regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or length of service.
Employees availing of this support can phase their return from parental leave by working the equivalent of a 30-hour week at full pay for a further six months. Vodafone also has ground-breaking domestic violence and menopause supports in place. Vodafone’s Fertility and Pregnancy supports offer flexibility and paid leave, with a wide range of support services aided by training. This includes extended paid leave of ten days for those impacted by pregnancy loss (when this occurs prior to 24 weeks, after this full maternity leave applies), inclusive of whether the loss occurs to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother. The Fertility Treatment support offers 10 paid working days leave per annum for those directly undergoing fertility treatment, and two days paid leave for partners of those having treatment.
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