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Richard Branson Now Offers Employees a Full Year of Parental Leave The eccentric business magnate is raising the bar on employee benefits.

By Katrina Bishop

This story originally appeared on CNBC

REUTERS | Fred Prouser
After introducing "unlimited" vacations last year, Virgin's unorthodox range of employee benefits are back in the headlines as new parents are offered up to a year's parental leave on full pay.
Self-made billionaire Richard Branson revealed the plans—which affect only one part of the Virgin empire—earlier this week in a blog post saying: "If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business."
Moms and dads who have worked at Virgin Management, the group's investment and brand-licensing arm, for four years or longer will receive 100 percent of their salary for 52 weeks.
Those with fewer than four years' service will receive less pay, and employees who have worked at the company for fewer than two years will get 25 percent of their salary. It only applies to staff in Virgin Management's London and Geneva offices.
In the U.K., new legislation—called Shared Parental Leave and Pay—means that working parents can share time off after their child is born or adopted. They're eligible for up to six months parental leave, and receive 90 percent of their salary for at least the first six weeks.
Many companies then top this up with additional parental leave pay. This is in stark contrast to the U.S., where the statutory minimum leave is zero weeks. But Branson said he wants to take things a "step further."
"As a father and now a grandfather to three wonderful grandchildren, I know how magical the first year of a child's life is but also how much hard work it takes," he wrote on his blog.
"Being able to spend as much time as possible with your loved ones is absolutely vital, especially early on."
It comes after Virgin last year introduced "unlimited leave" for all Virgin Group employees, allowing staff to take off as much time as they want.
Branson is one of the U.K.'s most high-profile entrepreneurs, and is worth around $5 billion according to Forbes. His profile on Twitter describes him as a, "tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist & troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality."
He is known for his publicity stunts, which include launching Virgin Cola by driving a tank down New York's Fifth Avenue and "blowing up" the Coca-Cola sign in Times Square.

Katrina Bishop is a deputy news editor at CNBC.com. Previously, she worked as a business producer at Sky News and a copy editor at Dow Jones Newswires.

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