The US is the only country out of 38 that doesn't require paid maternity leave, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study. And while the US Family and Medical Leave Act does provide for up to 12 weeks of leave for some employees with a new baby or other qualifying family situation, it's unpaid leave. A global telecom company, however, has decided it's not waiting for mandates from each of its affiliate nations, including the US: Vodafone will offer 16 paid weeks of maternity leave, covering new moms in the US, Africa, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, and Europe, CBS News reports. And once moms are back behind the desk, the company takes its progressive policy one step further, paying a mother's full salary for a 30-hour workweek for the first six months.
The changes will be implemented by the end of 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports. KPMG research commissioned by Vodafone estimated that businesses offering 16 paid weeks would dole out $28 billion a year globally for the benefits. But it also found that by saving $47 billion by not having to recruit and train new employees taking over for moms opting out of the workforce, companies would save $19 billion a year collectively. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao also thinks that since fewer moms will permanently off-ramp, his company can boost more women who work there (35% of its employees) into upper-management roles—only 21% of its international upper ranks are currently made up of women. (President Obama is on board with paid family leave.)