Swedish automaker Volvo Cars said Tuesday it would give its 40,000 employees worldwide the right to six-month paid parental leave in a bid to increase gender equality and attract talent.
As of April 1, employees who have worked for the carmaker for at least one year will be entitled to the benefit at 80% of their salary.
Employees can take those weeks whenever they like during the first three years after the birth of their child.
The policy is based on Sweden's national parental leave policy, one of the most generous in the world with 480 days to be shared by both parents at 80% of their salary up to a ceiling of around $4,500 (3,800 euros) a month.
"Most important is that we offer the same to both parents, and we want to encourage more men to take the opportunity to take their parental leave," Hanna Fager, head of Volvo Cars' human resources, told AFP.
Other Swedish companies have previously introduced paid parental leaves for their worldwide employees, including music streaming company Spotify which in 2015 introduced a six-month parental leave with full pay.
Ikea also announced similar programs in 2017 in India and the U.S.
Volvo Cars, which said that around 75% of its employees were men, has been testing the policy in a pilot scheme since 2019 for sales staff in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, in which 46% of applicants were fathers.
Fager said paid parental leave was rare in the automotive industry but also geographically.
"We have a lot of people in China and the U.S. and this will be a big improvement compared to what is offered there today," Fager said.
"Of course this will cost money but ... we see this as a long term investment," she said, adding the company expected "positive outcomes, that we attract more diverse talents, (and) that we also become a more attractive company."
Volvo said the initiative would include all legally registered parents, including adoptive, foster care, and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents in same-sex couples.
The group said it wanted to "create a culture that supports equal parenting for all genders."
"When parents are supported to balance the demands of work and family, it helps to close the gender gap and allows everyone to excel in their careers," chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said in the statement.