IPG Mediabrands overhauls leave policy for premature births

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IPG Mediabrands, has announced plans to support parents of premature babies and new-born babies requiring neonatal care – becoming the first media agency to grant extra time off to any employee whose baby is born prematurely.

Under current law, maternity/paternity leave begins the day after birth, regardless of individual circumstances, the company said. This often results in parents spending a difficult first few weeks or months visiting their baby in a neonatal unit.

IPG, which is the global media arm of Interpublic Group, has teamed up with The Smallest Things  - a charity which campaigns for the Government to change legislation to give all parents of premature babies extended leave.

'Employer with a heart'

The firm said it was awarded an ‘Employer with Heart’ charter mark from the charity, recognising that it is making important steps to support parents at what could be the most difficult time in their lives.

“We are delighted that IPG Mediabrands is the first media agency to sign up to our ‘Employer with Heart’ charter and will give parents of babies born prematurely the extra time they need”, said Sarah Miles, Trustee and Board Director of The Smallest Things. 

“Visiting a fragile baby on a neonatal unit for weeks, sometimes months, is terrifying and shouldn’t be counted as maternity or paternity leave. We hope other media agencies follow Mediabrands’ lead.”

“This policy will provide parents of premature babies with emotional and financial support at a very difficult and traumatic time, allowing them more precious time with their babies before returning to work. 

“The benefits, from better postnatal health and better outcomes for babies’ development, to a more positive return to work, are plain to see  – and will support our mission to provide the best possible support for working parents,” says Caroline Foster Kenny, IPG Mediabrands CEO, EMEA.

Sophia Durrani, Managing Partner for Strategy at IPG Mediabrands agency, UM, said: "As a mother to twins who spent their first seven weeks in neonatal care, I can speak from experience about the emotional rollercoaster parents of preemies face in those early weeks and months. 

“It is an experience like no other, often traumatic and overwhelming; therefore, any support to reduce external stresses like finance and work makes a huge difference and is enormously welcome. The latest initiative from Mediabrands is fantastic as it provides just that - helping parents to focus on what matters most at this vulnerable time: their babies and bonding with them."

IPG Mediabrands said it will also be working with From Babies with Love, an award winning social enterprise that delivers new baby gifts to parents, with every penny of profit from their ethically sourced designs going to projects supporting orphaned and abandoned children around the world.

Progressive quest 

These new policy changes are the latest in IPG Mediabrands’ quest to become one of the UK’s most progressive and agile businesses. 

Its ‘Open’ culture has been established not only to celebrate inclusion and diversity across the company, but also to ensure that employees can work in an agile and flexible way – ultimately forging more successful partnerships with clients.

Over the past 12 months, the UK network has introduced core working hours, annual sabbaticals, extended maternity and paternity leave and pay, additional support around mental health and has established an Open Women’s Network to put gender equality front-of-mind. 

It has also been rolling out a robust insight and thought leadership series to expose and tackle stereotyping in the media and advertising industry, ensuring that we work together as an industry to make our word more diverse, inclusive and – as a result – more successful.

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