Richard Branson Does Maternity Leave Right

An awesome new policy under Richard Branson gives Virgin employees a whole year of paid maternity leave or paternity leave—and guess what? It's coming to the U.S.

Richard Branson Does Maternity Leave Right s_bukley/

Say what you'd like about Sir Richard Branson and his extravagant lifestyle, but when it comes to giving his workers what they really want as new parents—decent maternity leave and paternity leave—he's nailing it. He just announced a policy at Virgin Management allowing paid parental leave for up to a year.

Yep, that's right. A year.

The new maternity leave/paternity leave policy comes with a few (reasonable) stipulations: A full year with full pay is only available to those who have been with the company for four years and newer employees receive a proportioned amount based on how long they've been employed. But the good news is the policy applies to both moms and dads, including those families who choose to adopt.

The downside? Though the Virgin Group is huge with 40 companies, this particular policy only affects those at Virgin Management. The Independent estimates this will be helpful to about 140 employees in London and Geneva.

But there is good news: A spokesperson for Virgin Group told ABC News that this amazing policy could be coming stateside soon. "We are in the process of working hard on making this happen in the U.S. and hope to have an update in the coming months," the spokesperson said.

Europe has always been way ahead of the United States in term of benefits for mothers—maternity leave is nearly three times as long in most European countries and isn't, um, considered a "disability"—but an extensive package like this one, which includes paternity leave on a par with maternity leave, is pretty revolutionary. Sweden only offers three months paid leave—and they are considered to have some of the best new-baby perks in the world.

It's a step in the right direction, and we hope this ground-breaking move will have a ripple effect across the corporate world. Branson's policy beats even forward-thinking companies like Google, which gives out 12 weeks to primary caregivers, or Facebook, which allows for 17 weeks of paid maternity leave and paternity leave. If companies want to stay tempting to future employees, they better step up. After all, we think all parents deserve this much time off, even if they aren't under the employment of Sir Richard.