Gender-neutral leave policy
Joseph Pandaram is a new dad, and he shares a bit about being able to enjoy the new parental leave policy at Vodacom.
Vodacom is the first telco in SA to introduce a gender-neutral leave policy. This allows all its employees, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, 16 weeks (four months) of fully paid parental leave. This means that any employee whose partner is having a baby, adopts a child or becomes a parent through surrogacy, will have the flexibility to take up to 16 weeks paid leave at any time during the first 18 months.
“As a company with strong local roots, diversity and inclusion are core to our beliefs and purpose at Vodacom. 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,” says Matimba Mbungela, Vodacom Group Chief Human Resources Officer.
We spoke to Joseph Pandaram, a first-time dad and the Executive Head for Digital Engineering, who welcomed his son in time to experience the new gender-neutral leave policy.
Tell us a bit about your story.
My son was born on 22 September 2020. He is my firstborn and came as a total surprise and blessing.
How long was your leave and what was the experience like?
My leave was one month, but I realised that even that amount of time is too little. The first three days we spent in the hospital, and the first week was basically just a lot of no sleep. In week two we had to admit our baby to the hospital and due to the COVID-19 situation, only one parent was allowed to stay with him. He was discharged on the fourth day, so under the previous leave structure, realistically I would have had only three days with him. With the new structure I was able to spend the next two weeks helping my wife to recover from the operation and bonding with my son. I opted to use the rest of my paid leave during the 18 months ahead, so I can be there with him at key milestones.
How did the new policy benefit you and your family?
I suppose it might be taken at face value the amount of support a new mom would need in recovery. As a partner, it’s about being able to give extended support to enable a speedy recovery. There are also things you don’t know will be needed until you’re in the situation. So having the ability to go out and address things immediately definitely made me feel like a better parent.
A special memory from the time spent with your new bundle of joy?
Maybe it's due to relief, but it was when he was discharged from hospital the second time and I was able to bring him back home.
Vodacom is intentional about building an inclusive culture where everyone is respected, can be themselves and strives to be their best. Click here for more information about the benefits of working at Vodacom.