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Tue July 07 2020

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Family-friendly revolution at Wates

9 Mar Construction firm Wates Group has today introduced what could be the construction industry's most progressive package of family-friendly employment policies.

Wates is attempting cultural revolution
Wates is attempting cultural revolution

Wates is increasing parental leave and bereavement leave and is also introducing carer’s leave.

Wates has increased maternity leave to 26 weeks full pay, plus a further 26 weeks statutory maternity pay, doubling the amount of full pay available to staff.

Paternity/partner leave is increased to eight weeks full pay, more than a fourfold increase on the current policy.

Improved bereavement leave now includes two weeks of full pay after losing an immediate family member.

Carer’s leave now enables any employee to take up to four weeks of unpaid leave in a year.

Wates will also continue to match enhanced entitlement for shared parental leave and adoption leave with maternity leave and pay.

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Wates, itself a family-owned business, hopes that the new policies will help attract and develop a diverse workforce, as well as helping to close the gender pay gap by enabling more sharing of responsibilities at work and home.

Last year Wates set down diversity targets for 2025. Wates has approximately 4,000 employees. But 2025 it wants its workforce to be 60% men and 40% women. It wants 20% of its workforce to come from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background; it wants 3% to have a disability; and 5% to identify as LGBTQ+ in their sexual orientation. [See previous report here.]

Chief executive David Allen said: “To be truly fit for the future and to continue to succeed, we need to become a more progressive and inclusive organisation. So, we want to give all our people the flexibility and support they need to thrive in the workplace and at home. These new policies will help us do just that. They provide support for everyone at all stages of their working lives and are tangible evidence of our commitment to being a flexible and responsible employer and to investing in all the members of our tremendous team.”

Nikunj Upadhyay is Wates' head of diversity and inclusion
Nikunj Upadhyay is Wates' head of diversity and inclusion

Nikunj Upadhyay, group head of diversity and inclusion at Wates Group, who joined the company last September from Barclays Bank, said: “Surveys of parents in the workplace indicate that men want to be more present for their children and elderly parents, but that current public policy, perceived expectations and organisational practices are barriers to this desire. We also know that one of the biggest reasons for gender pay gap is that women tend to spend more time out of work in their careers due to caring responsibilities.

“Family friendly policies enable more equal sharing of work. These changes reflect the needs of modern families and will help us develop a diverse environment where everyone is welcomed, included and connected.” 

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