Standard Chartered Bank is introducing a new parental leave policy for its employees worldwide, including those in Uganda. Starting from September 1, 2023, all Standard Chartered Bank employees will be eligible for a minimum of 20 weeks of fully paid parental leave.
This change aims to create a fair and equal opportunity for all parents to take time off to care for their children, regardless of their gender, relationship status, or the circumstances of their child’s arrival into their family, such as through birth, adoption, surrogacy, or other means.
The bank’s decision to standardize parental leave benefits is designed to support its employees who are parents, enabling them to better balance their personal lives with their professional careers. Tanuj Kapilashrami, Group Head of Human Resources, emphasized that this move is part of the bank’s commitment to fostering an inclusive work culture.
Kapilashrami stated, “We continuously look at how we can introduce progressive benefits that drive inclusion, improve the employee experience, and help colleagues achieve their potential. We believe benefits such as this help address globally prevalent societal norms around traditional roles, improve workforce participation, and provide options to those who want to take up shared childcare responsibilities.”
Standard Chartered Bank hopes that this step will positively impact the financial well-being of families and contribute to creating a more inclusive workplace that respects each employee’s family planning choices. Kapilashrami also encouraged other companies to follow their lead in improving working conditions and promoting inclusivity.
He said, “We hope that our actions inspire other employers—across industries, around the world—to take similar actions. If we take a stand together, we can build a movement that creates a more inclusive society.”
Internationally, various organizations, including the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, have established guidelines for employers to support new parents in dealing with the financial, emotional, and social challenges of raising children. These guidelines include a minimum of 14 weeks of maternity leave.
In the European Union, the Pregnant Workers Directive requires at least 14 weeks of maternity leave, and the Work–Life Balance Directive mandates at least 10 days of paternity leave, along with a minimum of four months of parental leave, with two months being non-transferable.
However, parental leave policies can vary widely by country, with only a few, such as Papua New Guinea and the United States, not mandating paid time off for new parents. Some countries allow employees to convert parental leave into part-time work.
In Africa, the average parental leave duration is relatively short, with mothers typically entitled to between eight and 17 weeks of leave, and fathers often receiving between zero and one week.
Uganda’s labor laws stipulate a minimum of 10 weeks of maternity leave for mothers with full pay, while fathers are entitled to just one week of paid leave. The country currently does not provide any form of parental leave.
A few African countries offer extended parental leave, which follows maternity and/or paternity leave. Burkina Faso and Chad provide 52 weeks of parental leave to either parent, while Morocco offers 52 weeks, but only to mothers. Egypt offers the longest parental leave, with 102 weeks exclusively for mothers.