Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > UNICEF UK EQUALISES PARENTAL LEAVE FOR ALL

London, 15 January 2020 – In a sector leading move, Unicef UK announces equalised parental leave policy for all employees. This policy acknowledges the equal role of each caregiver in raising a child, shifting the focus away from gender, sexual orientation or length of service, and puts it on the child and the time spent with them during those early moments.

In a recent global report, UNICEF revealed that despite universal growing acceptance of family-friendly policies, the UK is ranked among the least family-friendly of the world’s richest countries in terms of policies on child care and parental leave, after Switzerland, Greece and Cyprus, and urged transformative shifts in family-friendly work policies. In the UK,

  • fathers are entitled to two weeks statutory paternity leave at £148.68 per week.
  • parents are entitled to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay during the first year the child is born or placed with the family
  • estimated take-up by eligible fathers is currently only be between 2-8%, with financial reasons cited as the main obstacle.

Currently, for the 13 million working parents* in the UK, balancing childcare responsibilities with workplace obligations continues to present a challenge. Wider implications of these challenges present themselves for both the caregivers and the children.

The new equalised parental leave policy at Unicef UK will provide:

  • 52 weeks leave for all new caregivers
  • Application to all caregivers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation allowing those who are pregnant, expecting a child but are not the pregnant parent, or adopting
  • Continuous communication and support network available
  • Equalised pay for all new caregivers

Martyn Dicker, Director of People at Unicef UK, said, ‘We are keen to see policies like ours become the norm and for the rights of caregivers and their children to be supported.’ He added, ‘I’m really proud that we are equalising parental leave for all of our employees in one policy. This is a genuinely important moment for us – it’s a big shift forward. It puts us in our rightful place as a sector leader in the way we support parents and caregivers to provide the best opportunities for children. I am hoping others will follow our example.’

‘As a new father and Unicef UK employee, it’s great to know that our new parental leave policy will allow me to play my role in my child’s development and that this is recognised as important by Unicef UK. This is game-changing for a family as, thanks to this policy change, all caregivers will now get the chance to take an equally active part in raising our children, bonding with them and to help provide them with the best start in life.’, said Freddie Pite, Senior Corporate Relations Manager.

Unicef UK’s renewed parental leave policy has been welcomed by its Child Rights and Business Unit, which campaigns for and advises organisations on how best to support children and how to give them the opportunities to thrive, guided by the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. This review aligns Unicef UK’s parental leave policy with its family-friendly legislation and positions the organisation as a sector leader in the way caregivers are supported to spend quality time with their children whilst fulfilling their career objectives.




Notes to editors:

*This figure refers to employed and self-employed parents in the UK. See ‘ONS (2018) Parents and non-parents by sex and age of youngest dependent child and different working arrangements, UK and regions.

Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes in Modern

Families Index 2019, see: https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/wpcontent/



For more information, please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, [email protected]

Ayse Yalinca, 0207 375 6163, [email protected]


About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

For more information please visit unicef.org.uk


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