The UK’s largest insurer will allow all new parents the same amount of paid leave after the arrival of a child.
Aviva will offer its 16,000 employees 26 weeks leave on full basic pay, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
The policy applies to parents who have given birth, adopted or chosen surrogacy.
It is one of the most family-friendly offered by any UK employer, Aviva says.
A spokesperson for the professional body for human resources managers, CIPD, said Aviva’s move was a significant and positive step.
But it said even when men are offered the opportunity to take shared parental leave, the take up remains very low.
The move tackles one of the barriers to career progression, Aviva says.
Aviva argues the move will create a “level playing field for men and women” who want to take time out of their career to spend time with their family.
The CIPD’s spokeswoman welcomed Aviva’s move increase the pay available “to allow both parents to play an equal part in the upbringing of their child”.
Aviva would need to use male role models to show it is acceptable to take up the offer of parental leave, “to encourage a change in perceptions and foster a cultural change. Otherwise, male employees may still be reticent about taking time off, even if paid,” she added.
Fathers often take a minimum amount of time off for financial reasons, whilst their partner’s income is reduced.