All parents working for HSBC will be able to return to work on a part-time basis after maternity or paternity leave, the banking giant announced recently.

Employers are not obligated to provide part-time positions for returning parents, although parents are entitled to ask for it. So we should give full credit to HSBC for recognising that it is possible to balance family life with career development.

The bank is the first large corporate in the UK to offer a guaranteed part-time position to staff returning from maternity/paternity leave. The role will be on the same level and with a pro rata salary to the position they held prior to their leave.

About 1,100 HSBC employees take parental leave after childbirth every year and 87% of them want to go back to work. The bank’s head of employee relations said the flexible working arrangements would help its employees maintain their household income whilst still taking care of their children.

She went on to explain that the bank was committed to bringing more women into senior positions and she hoped that the guarantee of a part-time role would encourage them to continue with their career.

As well as this new guarantee, the bank gives mothers 14 weeks full pay when they go on maternity leave instead of the statutory requirement of 90% salary for 6 weeks. Parents are also allowed to take up to 5 days paid leave each year for family emergencies.

The bank also has a scheme that allows employees to take a year long unpaid sabbatical if they want a period of extended leave and staff who apply to rejoin the bank within five years of leaving will receive priority over other applicants.

All told, HSBC does seem to be a family friendly employer. It’s a pity there aren’t more large organisations in the UK that realise that women can have a successful career and raise a family at the same time.

How difficult would other HR departments throughout the UK find it to offer a similar set of benefits to staff returning from parental leave? Will women be encouraged to join HSBC specifically because it offers these benefits?

About Maggie Berry