By Jonathan Davies

Vodafone has announced plans to introduce a global maternity deal, giving women far better terms that the statutory minimum required in many of the countries it operates in.

The mobile network operator will give new mothers a minimum of 16 weeks full-pay maternity leave, and a 30-hour week on full pay for the first six months when they return.

Vodafone said the policy, which will be introduced by the end of 2015 in every country it operates in, was brought in to hire and retain more female employees.

It described the plans as "pioneering", citing the very few international businesses that have introduced comparable policies.

Joe Wiggins, Career Trends Analyst at Glassdoor, which carried out research on maternity leave in September, said: "Today's announcement could revolutionise maternity benefits as we see them today. Not only is Vodafone making a stand for transparency around what they are offering, they are also creating a level playing field globally in a first of its kind package.

"Recent research carried out by Glassdoor revealed that just one in three female UK employees were given information about maternity benefits when they started their current job. This has always been the biggest mystery in the benefits package and it's a breath of fresh air to see this transparent approach.

"In the UK alone there are more than 13 million women in the workplace and amongst these more than 5 million are working mums. These women are an important part of UK businesses so it seems pretty short sighted to keep maternity benefit details under lock and key.”