MEN and women working for an alcohol production company are now entitled to an equal 52 weeks parental leave in a bid to support gender equality.

Diageo UK has recently announced the introduction which will benefit workers in its packaging warehouse in Whitehouse industrial estate, Runcorn.

All new parents will be eligible for the leave, with the same fully-paid 26 weeks, retaining benefits and bonuses regardless of gender, sexual orientation or whether they become parents biologically, via surrogacy or through adoption.

The ambitious move is part of Diageo’s work to support gender equality and to create a diverse workforce.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mairéad Nayager, Chief HR officer at Diageo said: "True gender equality in the working world requires fundamental changes to a broad range of working practices, including a shake-up of the policies and cultural norms around parental leave.

"Today’s announcement is about matching ambition with action and supporting all of our colleagues – regardless of gender - to experience the joy of raising a young family, while continuing to thrive at work."

Minister for women and equalities, Penny Mordaunt, said: "I’m delighted to see Diageo making this move.

"Shared parental leave gives both mums and dads the chance to spend quality time with their child in the important first months of their life, creating a bond that will last a lifetime.

"Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.

"Action like this is exactly what we are encouraging as part of our forthcoming strategy which will aim to empower every woman in the UK to achieve their true potential."