Vodacom Group, a South African telecommunications firm, is providing all global employees with 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

Employees will be able to take the leave if they or their partner are having a baby, adopting a child or becoming a parent through surrogacy. They can take the leave anytime within the first 18 months of parenthood.

The new policy will also give employees the ability to phase in their return from leave by working the equivalent of a 30-hour workweek at full pay for an additional two months.

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“We are proud to support all families by giving every parent the opportunity to have more time with their children, without worrying about the impact on their finances or careers,” said Matimba Mbungela, Vodacom’s chief human resources officer, in a press release. “The new parental leave policy further underlines our strong commitment to diversity and gender equality and will make a significant difference to thousands of Vodacom employees, particularly in markets where there is little or no legal requirement to give equal support for both parents.”

In March 2015, Vodacom offered a six-month fully paid maternity leave to women across all of its markets and operations. That policy also allows women to return to a 30-hour week at full pay for their first six months back on the job. The company also launched a program in 2017 to bring in women who’d left the workplace for several years, commonly to raise a family, and wanted to return but were struggling with making connections or refreshing their skills.

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