Virgin Group’s family leave policy sends message for working families

In an announcement Monday morning, Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson and Virgin Management CEO Josh Bayliss blew other companies out of the water by releasing a shared policy of up to one year of fully paid leave for new parents. Virgin’s new policy extends this benefit to include pay for all new parents, including fathers and adoptive parents, at up to 100 percent of their base salaries. One parent, however, can’t take a full year of paid leave alone — the time would have to be divided between parents.

As a father and now a granddad to three wonderful grandchildren, I know how magical the first year of a child’s life is but also how much hard work it takes.

Richard Branson

The U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t provide paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act only guarantees women 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they’ve worked at a company for 1,250 hours over the past 12 months and the company employs 50 or more people. That’s why Virgin’s move sends a powerful message about what an employer can — and should — do to support working families, not to mention that Virgin will also reap the rewards of a committed workforce, writes Yahoo Parenting’s Lindsay Powers.