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NatWest’s male bankers to get a year off for fatherhood

Natwest paternity leave
Natwest paternity leave

NatWest has told its male bankers that they can take a full year off when they become a father, as it races to reinvent itself as more family friendly.

The bank will next year introduce a policy that allows all new parents to take up to a year off regardless of their gender, of which half will be fully paid. Equal paid parental leave is increasingly common, but NatWest is unusual in offering fathers a full year off.

It previously offered men two weeks of statutory paternity leave on full pay.

By offering all new parents the same pay and leave entitlements, chief executive Alison Rose said NatWest hopes to support "wider cultural change by promoting a shared approach to childcare responsibilities early on".

Ms Rose, who in 2019 became the first-ever woman to lead one of the UK’s big banks, added that the bank wants "to do more to help families thrive".

It is the latest example of the lender racing to overhaul its image, after it last month said it would pay for transgender staff to get privately-funded hormone treatment and earlier this year introduced pronouns and phonetic name spellings on new bamboo branch badges.

It has also reviewed the wording of its employment policies to "ensure language and scenarios are LGBT+ inclusive" and changed its absence and sick leave rules to include time off for people who are transitioning.

The changes come as the banking sector tries to shake-off its "pale, male and stale" image in an effort to attract a younger and more diverse workforce.

British banks are following in the footsteps of American rivals such as Goldman Sachs, which told London staff years ago that they can have free sex-change surgery and fertility treatments. It was also the first UK company to ship working mothers’ breast milk home if they work overseas.

Formerly known as the Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest almost brought down Britain's financial system in 2008 when it was bailed out by the government for £45bn after then-chancellor Alistair Darling was told it was within hours of running out of money. The taxpayer held a majority stake in the bank until March this year, when a share buyback brought public ownership down to 48pc.