Off the back of the #ShowUsYourLeave movement, three companies bring their parental leave offerings out of a policy document and into public view.
You might’ve noticed a new hashtag trending in your LinkedIn feed of late.
Since theSkimm, a digital media company based in New York, developed the hashtag #ShowUsYourLeave late last year to spark conversation about family leave policies, the campaign has taken social media by storm.
The movement encourages companies to publicly share their parental leave policies, and businesses including Amex, Pfizer, Pinterest and Bank of America have caught wind of the trend.
Although the movement was born in the United States due to the lack of paid family leave at a national level, it has also sparked conversation further abroad – including in Australia – about the need for companies to expand their parental leave offerings, and be more transparent about them.
Three companies share their parental leave policies – and some other progressive offerings – with HRM.
Putting caregivers on equal standing: Melbourne Water
Up until mid last year, Melbourne Water differentiated between primary and secondary caregivers’ leave. This meant that after accessing two initial weeks of caregivers’ leave, a secondary caregiver would be entitled to 12 weeks of leave if their partner returned to work on a full-time basis.
Last year, this policy was modified so that both primary and secondary caregivers now fall under the one category of ‘caregiver’.
Under this reviewed policy, both parents have access to 14 weeks paid caregivers leave upon the birth of their child.
“We decided to change the policy because we have a lot of working fathers who wanted to take the secondary caregiver’s leave but they weren’t eligible,” says Peita Sharp CPHR, Senior Employee Advisor at Melbourne Water.
“We know that a lot of working mothers don’t go back to work on a full-time basis. They go back to work on a part-time basis, so the initial leave offering wasn’t much of an entitlement for working fathers.”
The reviewed policy places both working parents on more equal footing.
“The benefit of [the updated policy] is that the mother gets the support she needs in the first three months of having the child, and the father gets that opportunity to bond with the child as well,” says Sharp.
The 12 weeks of caregivers leave can be taken upon the birth of the child, or at a later date.
“The most important part is that you’re not differentiating by calling one parent the primary and one parent the secondary. It’s the equality of it as a parent, and sharing the carers’ responsibilities and those parents being able to have that bonding time with their child at an early age,” says Sharp.
“They’re both equally there to care for your child, and you both should have that responsibility but also that benefit as well.”
New parental leave offerings: Publicis Groupe
Towards the end of last year, Publicis Groupe introduced an array of new leave offerings, including IVF leave.
The emotional responses that Grant received from employees speak for themselves.
“I received an email from one employee who said, ‘I went through IVF and when you announced this new policy, I burst into tears. If I had this kind of support and just an active acknowledgment of the impact that it had on my life, it would’ve made a huge difference to me,’” Grant recalls.
“We need to look at ourselves not just as managing an employee’s experience, but looking at their life experience. We are part of that as an organisation.”
Publicis Groupe also offers cub care days to new parents, enabling parents to take five days of leave when their child starts attending childcare and the parent returns to work.
“Whenever a parent goes back to work after being on parental leave, nine times out of ten, their child gets sick. It’s really stressful for parents,” says Grant.
“They’ve just got back to work after being away for however long, they’re probably feeling vulnerable and not getting much sleep, and all of a sudden your child is sick and you can’t go to work.
“This is an acknowledgment that we know this happens to working parents, and that’s okay.”
Publicis Groupe have rallied behind the #ShowUsYourLeave movement, and have posted their suite of leave offerings on LinkedIn.
Grant explains the motivation behind this decision.
“Leave can sometimes sit in a policy document, and people often don’t know what leave is available,” she says.
“Leave is a fundamental part of creating an inclusive environment and one where people understand the support that you are providing. It’s really important to highlight that. The movement happening at the moment is fantastic; leave can be a great way to attract new employees, and it’s also great for retaining staff.
“It’s telling your employees, ‘This is the foundation for the culture we want to have in our organisation. Having that option to take extra time off without concern about having to do work or rushing back to the office or worrying about what someone will say because you’ve taken time off is a huge mental relief for people.”
Refreshing parental leave policies: SAP ANZ
As the demographic make-up of a company’s workforce evolves, its leave policies need to shift to reflect employees’ unique needs.
Debbie Rigger, Head of HR at SAP Australia/NZ, explains how the company regularly reviews its parental leave policies to “drive an inclusive and flexible culture”.
“We made changes a few years ago to ensure superannuation was contributed to over the unpaid period and that our parental leave policy reflected all families, including those with same-sex parents,” she says.
“Last year we did another review to ensure our policies supported and celebrated our parents as they embark on their wonderful and life-changing event. Previously we required staff to be employed for a minimum of 12 months to access parental leave, which we felt was outdated and needed changing.
As of last December, some key features of SAP’s leave offerings include:
- Primary carers are eligible for 22 weeks of paid parental leave. Secondary carers are entitled to 12 weeks of leave.
- Eight weeks transition back to full-time work. Employees must work a minimum of two days for four weeks and then increase thereafter upon agreement with their manager.
- Special parental leave for stillbirths and miscarriages. If a stillbirth or miscarriage occurs after 20 weeks, employees are eligible for paid parental leave. If under 20 weeks, employees are eligible for up to three weeks of leave.
“We are proud to provide special parental leave for parents who experienced stillbirth and/or miscarriage, giving them the time and space to grieve and take care of their wellbeing during those difficult times,” says Rigger.
“It also brings stillbirths and miscarriages out of the shadows, so staff feel supported and know that we are here for them and their families.”
- No minimum tenure/service requirement to access parental leave for employees who have passed probation.
- Parental leave can be taken flexibly. There is now the option to take paid leave within two years of welcoming a child, instead of the one-year limitation that was previously imposed.
SAP also has a longstanding policy of offering relocation leave to employees, which can be particularly valuable to working parents who need time off to move homes with a young family.
“We listened to what our people wanted, sought external counsel and thought hard about how we could best support our staff navigate major transitions in their life, while understanding that professional and personal lives overlap,” says Rigger.
Ensuring employees are aware of their leave entitlements from the get-go is a key priority at SAP – and the #ShowUsYourLeave movement can help to leverage this focus, says Rigger.
“In a competitive marketplace, if we are looking to build trust and retain talent within an organisation, there should always be transparency with leave policies. Employees should be aware of your policies and benefits from their first day at work,” she says.
“The #ShowUsYourLeave movement is a great initiative and I believe it could be a real driver for change. It is encouraging to see businesses both big and small putting their cards on the table.”
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