Vertu Motors is launching a new ‘Enhanced Maternity Pay Scheme’ (EMPS) as it bids to attract more women to the automotive industry.
According to Deloitte’s Women in Automotive Industry report, females only represent 20 per cent of the automotive workforce in the UK.
That figure drops below 10 per cent at executive level and Vertu are determined to buck the trend.
As a result, bosses have launched the EMPS for female employees who have been continuously employed by the group for at least 52 weeks – the same qualifying criteria that apply for statutory maternity pay (SMP).
The new EMPS will significantly increase how much maternity pay women will be entitled to compared to other companies.
Under the SMP regulations, colleagues can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, 39 of which can be paid.
Vertu Motors currently pays maternity pay at the rate of 90 per cent of a colleague’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of leave followed by SMP for the remaining paid 33 weeks.
However, going forward the firm will pay the first six months at the rate of 90 per cent of the colleague’s average weekly earnings followed by the remaining weeks at SMP level.
The new approach maintains the employees take home pay at a rate almost equivalent to its normal level for the first six months of their leave.
Robert Forrester, chief executive of Vertu Motors plc, said: ‘As the leader of a large and fast-growing motor retail business I have for some time been confronting the stark reality about the gender balance in our sector, including in our own company where less than 20 per cent of our showroom colleagues are female.
‘We are serious and passionate about attracting and retaining a more gender balanced retail sales workforce and to supporting colleagues through their maternity leave.
‘We believe this scheme demonstrates our level of commitment in this area and believe that it will attract talent from outside the sector to apply for the many rewarding roles we have to offer.
‘We believe that this move to paying colleagues 90 per cent of their average earnings for a full six months will significantly support colleagues and their families through the maternity leave period and avoid them having to make real the usual material cuts to their spending that have to me made when being paid SMP only.
‘This puts our maternity pay offering well ahead of most other retailers and right up there with best-in-class employers.
‘It should certainly help us attract and retain more women and importantly support those heading off on maternity leave.
‘We are also piloting a further project to support both diversity and a work/life balance in our retail sales teams and if this is successful will announce the details and roll it out across the group.’