Claire Punins, Exploration geologist, her husband and new son James.
Claire Punins, Exploration geologist, her husband and new son James.

Decisions and anxiety around returning to work after having a baby are a constant concern for new parents around the world. That’s why Shell is proud to be the first major integrated oil and gas company to introduce a new global standard of 16 weeks paid maternity leave. This initiative is intended to help ease any work-related pressure for working parents and their families.

In Canada, Shell will expand its current offering of 6 weeks paid leave for birth mothers by introducing a 10-week paid leave for all parents, including fathers and adoptive parents, and giving 16 weeks paid leave for birth mothers. This will be paid as a top up to existing Employment Insurance benefits and will be in addition to the job protected unpaid leave offered per provincial legislation.

This policy will support all parents at Shell in Canada regardless of family status and will create an opportunity for parental leave to be a shared benefit for all genders.

Some countries have no minimum requirement

Laws and regulations on maternity benefits vary worldwide. In some countries, companies are required to offer a certain number of weeks fully paid with additional weeks partially paid, while others have no minimum requirement.

“For Shell, this is a monumental step in the right direction for equality,” says Exploration Geologist (and proud mom) Claire Punins, who was a leading voice in the internal programme to establish a global maternity policy.

“All women should receive the support they need as new mothers, regardless of where they are in the world. Having a global maternity standard at Shell is not only the right thing to do, it also makes business sense - making us more attractive to women seeking jobs and meaning they stay with us for longer.”

Caring for our employees and their families

While the standard explicitly addresses paid leave, Claire believes it also creates an opportunity for important conversations around what women experience in Shell prior to, during, and after their maternity leave.

As a dual-career family, returning back to work after maternity leave was always in the plan for Claire. She says: “Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming exhilaration and exhaustion of becoming a mother when my son James was born.”

Shell Canada President and Country Chair Michael Crothers sees clear benefits in having an inclusive workplace: “Diverse and inclusive businesses outperform other organizations. Our challenge of meeting future energy demand with less CO2 requires innovation from a rich pool of talented people. A minimum standard for paid leave for birth mothers and additional leave for all parents supports our employees in work-life balance, and is a big step forward in building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”