Virgin Media O2 is introducing a series of measures to bolster its support for employees during the cost-of-living crisis, with a new targeted support payment alongside flexible leave policies as part of its ambition to become a more inclusive and equitable company.
Employees earning £35,000 basic pay and under will receive a support allowance totalling £1,400 to assist with the rise in the cost-of-living. The first payment of £400 will be issued next month followed by another £400 in January 2023, and then six payments of £100 a month until July 2023.
As well as this, Virgin Media O2 continues to prioritise the wellbeing of employees, providing free access to financial advice and education support, and health and wellbeing services such as medical care and mental health support.
Extended time away for new parents
Virgin Media O2 is also introducing a range of best-in-class leave policies to provide greater support for employees who are new parents.
This includes 26 weeks’ paid Maternity or Adoption Leave, and 14 weeks’ paid Paternity Leave to any new parent.
In addition, the company will provide up to 10 days’ paid leave for those who have tragically experienced pregnancy loss.
Virgin Media O2 will also offer up to five days’ paid leave to help employees deal with emergencies at home or to help them support their family, and it will provide up to 10 days’ paid leave to support people who have experienced a loss of a loved one.
Industry-leading polices for unpaid carers and parents of premature babies
Virgin Media O2 is also one of the first UK businesses to offer both paid carer’s leave and neonatal leave.
With more than 1 in 10 of Virgin Media O2’s employees self-identifying as an unpaid carer, the company is introducing a gold-standard five days of paid carer’s leave. The policy has been developed in partnership with Virgin Media O2’s charity partner, Carers UK, and its employee network for unpaid carers, We Care. The leave is flexible and can be taken as 10 half days to ensure employees can best support their loved ones, such as taking them to medical appointments.
Virgin Media O2 is also providing up to 12 weeks’ paid neonatal leave to support parents whose babies are born prematurely or sick, and require neonatal care shortly after birth. The company is introducing the leave before it is a statutory requirement, where it will be added onto maternity, paternity or adoption leave to ensure parents can have quality time to bond with their new-borns.
The comprehensive polices have been developed using Equity Sequence™ to ensure they are inclusive and equitable, and use gender neutral language so they are accessible for all employees.
The measures build on Virgin Media O2’s new diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, All In, which was introduced earlier this year, with a series of bold ambitions to achieve gender parity and to increase the number of employees from minoritised ethnic groups across the organisation by 2027.
Philipp Wohland, Chief People Officer at Virgin Media O2, said:
“Virgin Media O2 is proud to be a leading UK employer and we’re stepping up for our people when they need us.
“We’re supporting our employees most affected by the rise in the cost-of-living with a payment of £1,400 to help them through the difficult months ahead. Coupled with an earlier pay uplift and bonus this represents an overall above-inflation increase for many of our people.
“Our new best-in-class leave policies will support all our employees – including LGBTQ+ families, and we’re proud to be one of the first UK businesses to offer both carer’s leave and neonatal leave, so that our people have the flexibility to be there for their loved ones when it counts.”
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“We’re delighted that our corporate partner Virgin Media O2 will be offering unpaid carers in the organisation five days of paid carer’s leave.
“We estimate as many as 1 in 7 of the UK workforce has an unpaid caring responsibility for a relative or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill. Juggling the two can be a challenging balancing act. Carer’s leave gives working carers the flexibility they need to support their loved one – at routine hospital appointments, for example, or to recover from a planned operation.
“Virgin Media O2 is taking one step further by ensuring that the leave is paid – showing that they really value the work of carers in their organisation. We hope other employers will recognise the benefits of carer’s leave and follow suit.”
Virgin Media O2’s introduction of paid neonatal leave has been welcomed by Bliss, a charity for babies born premature and sick.
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive at Bliss, said:
“Bliss is delighted to hear that Virgin Media O2 is introducing neonatal leave and pay ahead of this becoming a statutory requirement.
“As the UK’s leading charity for babies born premature and sick, we know what a difference it makes for both parents to have this much-needed time to be by their baby’s side in hospital. Without the worry of rushing back to work, parents are able to be involved in delivering hands-on care, which is vital to their baby having the best possible outcomes.”