Independent Law Firm introduces new industry-leading family-friendly leave policies

Lesley Larg, managing partner at Thorntons

Full-service independent law firm Thorntons is introducing new, agenda-setting, inclusive family-friendly policies to offer the profession’s best possible support for their colleagues during the moments that matter in life.

New mothers will receive treble the existing paid maternity, which is rising to 26 weeks at full pay and 13 weeks’ half pay and for those colleagues adopting a child will receive the same benefits.

Co-parents will receive 12 weeks of paid leave replacing the standard approach of two weeks to enjoy this special moment with their families. Colleagues can also benefit from fully paid shared parental leave to reflect co-parenting needs.

Shared parental leave was introduced nine years ago. However, a government report published last year revealed that only 1% of eligible mothers and 5% of eligible fathers and partners have taken up shared parental leave because the statutory rates paid by most employers makes it unaffordable. Thorntons’ fully paid shared parental leave aims to tackle the low rates and deliver greater equity across parental roles. In addition, a new 12 week phase back option for anyone returning from maternity or adoption leave is available. The new phase back arrangements enable colleagues to work 50% of their time, over a 12-week period, while receiving full salary to ensure a smooth transition back to the workplace.

Thorntons, one of Scotland’s fastest growing law firms, is implementing its new approach as part of a long-held ambition to remove barriers for those with family and caring responsibilities. The firm, which has more than 580 staff and partners, already offers more than 200 flexible working patterns including early starts and finishes, and four-day weeks.

Lesley Larg, managing partner, Thorntons, and a mother of two, said: “I’ve always been of the view that by providing the best possible conditions we will retain and recruit the best possible people, but this is also very personal for me.

“When my children were young, I frequently had to travel to London, but my husband also had a career which involved working away. It was a juggling act to find childcare, and I had a host of people involved including my mum. I remember being on the point of resignation because it was just too much, but luckily my fantastic colleagues helped to find alternative ways of working.

“As a growing and ambitious firm, we recognise the importance of removing those barriers and supporting people with caring responsibilities to ensure they can progress their careers.”

As part of its enhanced family-friendly offering, Thorntons is introducing new paid leave entitlement for assisted conception and IVF treatment, as well as increased paid leave to support colleagues who experience miscarriage and parental bereavement.

Before introducing the diverse range of policies, Thorntons undertook substantial research into family friendly approaches including benchmarking across the legal sector and a wider review of best practice among leading UK businesses.

Dr Susan Hetrick, Director of People, added: “Introducing our family friendly policies is the first step in ensuring we support our colleagues during their working lives in the moments that matter and strengthen our already inclusive workplace.

“Our new shared parental leave policy is motivated by a desire to remove gender inequalities faced by working parents and encourage shared parenting. We know that this will encourage mothers or primary carers and their respective partners to play their part in the care of their child in the first year after birth, whilst maintaining a good connection with the workplace. Offering a supportive culture enables our people to thrive and produce their best work.”

Thorntons employs more than 580 people and partners across its network of offices in Scotland including Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Inverness.

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