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General Mills brands include Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Nature Valley and Green Giant

Global food giant General Mills has boosted its employees’ rights in the UK and Ireland with the rollout of a new parental leave policy that exceeds statutory obligations.

New parents will now be eligible for 26 weeks of paid leave and will retain pension contributions for the entirety regardless of gender, type of relationship, or how they became parents.

The $16.8bn company, whose brands include Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Nature Valley and Green Giant, is also providing external coaching for employees to help with their transition to parenthood and back into the workplace.

The company said the move was part of its efforts to create a fully inclusive and diverse workforce and to ensure parents were not adversely financially affected in the long term because of their parenting role.

Ben Pearman, managing director of General Mills UK & Ireland, called the new policy “a thoughtful approach” to ensure the company was more inclusive, especially when it came to equalising differences in pay and benefits, such as pension contributions.

“By investing in external coaching, we hope to help our employees have the positive experience that having a child deserves to be,” he said.

“It’s important that we show our commitment and leadership with progressive employment policies that support equality and inclusion in the workplace.”