The Parental Fog report: firms must do more on paternity pay and policies

Survey of 100 companies finds barely any are doing enough to attract and support working parents

Parental Leave Policies


A new survey has named firms like Facebook, Boots and Virgin Media among the worst performers when it comes to publicising their policies on paternity leave and pay.

The Parental Fog report looked at 100 top companies to see how they’d fare under the terms of a proposed new law.

The Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements Bill will require large firms to publicly report their policies for parents.

However just four companies were awarded ‘beacon’ status in the report, meaning they maintain best practice including not just making it easy to find information about paternity pay and flexible working options on their website but they also promote the benefits of taking up such policies.


The four beacons were accountants Accenture, EY and PwC and the Civil Service.

Other companies were categorised as fully visible, visible, foggy or invisible in the work by the Executive Coaching Consultancy, a City firm that helps businesses and bosses to support working parents.

31 of the 100 companies were deemed ‘invisible’ to working parents. That list includes big names like Asos, AstraZeneca, British Airways and Dyson.

82 of the 100 would not meet the proposed terms of the Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements Bill. Government is set to consult on the final shape of that law soon.

The Executive Coaching Consultancy looked at the companies that make up the Times top 100 graduate employers. They ranked each firm by the same criteria with companies racking up points for measures such as mentioning their commitment to supporting working parents on their website and any awards won. The research credited firms that don’t just mention their parental pay and leave policies but spell out the detail. Terms such as ‘generous maternity leave package’ were not deemed acceptable.

Only around half of the companies surveyed mentioned their maternity, paternity or shared parental leave policy on their website. And only around half of them supplied details of exactly what was on offer.

One third of companies boasted of having won family friendly awards without explaining what they’d won the prizes for.


The report contains advice and practical steps that companies can take to improve their rating.

Companies are urged to ‘trailblaze’ stories of men that take up shared parental leave in order to drive up take up.

The report also highlights the way the ‘beacon’ firms go all out to publicise their family friendly policies and their positive impact with blogs, podcasts and videos featuring employees talking about and demonstrating how they work.

Data is also key to improving things. All companies should record uptake of shared parental leave and track what happens to employees who go part time or work flexibly to ensure their careers don’t flatline as a result.

Geraldine Gallacher, managing director of the Executive Coaching Consultancy, writes in the report, “A large chunk of the working population deals with predictable pressures from work and home on a daily basis, and employers appear to be leaving them to get on with it. This report is a call to action on the question of transparency.”

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