In France, while politics is divided on the recognition of marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, one of the biggest companies in the countries has implemented a good practice on this issue. To understand what it is about, let’s start from the story of one of its employees.
Julien desires a baby, with his partner. He is well aware that it will not be easy for their wish to be fulfilled. In France, in fact, the law does not provide for homosexual couples to adopt nor to resort to the so-called “carrier mothers”. Faced with these obstacles, however, Julien sighed with relief when he found out that the French telecommunication company he works for, SFR, allows a 11-day parental leave benefit to his homosexual employees, using a formula which equalizes homosexual parenthood to heterosexual parental leave. The salary perceived remains 100% the same as normal salary; this choice, however, “weighs” entirely on the employer. What lacks as a support to the company expense, in fact, is a contribute from the social security, which generally contributes in part to the salaries of fathers on parental leave, a subsidy which is completely absent in these cases. An additional effort for the society which declares not worried by economic costs, given the few request to this purpose. The company underlines, however, how important it is to meet certain requirements to benefit of the allowance. Only same-sex couples, cohabiting, can apply if one of the two partners is having a baby; so, you need to be either the partner of a pregnant woman or the partner of a biological father. It is less clear, instead, the position on adoption. Limits set, however, do not impede attention from the SFR itself internal activists. Since 2009, the company has been witnessing the HomoSFèRe, an association established to protect LGBT staff from homophobia discrimination on the workplace. When in the early 2011, a woman went seeing the association manager to ask for a parental leave for the delivery of her partner. Sylvie Fondacci, president of HomoSFèRe, decided to accept her request and to submit it to the attention of managers and enterprise union. Although this right is not guaranteed yet formally and being a merely unilateral – and, therefore, discretional – act, SFR has declared it wanted to honour the request for substantial, and not formal, equality of the rights of its employees. Certainly, a shy step forward, but also an initiative worth of note from a company apparently willing to give a clear signal of respect for the private life of its staff, whenever and wherever.