ANZ, Coles announce gender affirmation leave policies for transitioning staff

gender affirmation

Coles announced a gender affirmation leave policy last month. Source: Twitter

Big four bank ANZ has confirmed it will offer staff six weeks of paid gender affirmation leave — just one month after supermarket giant Coles introduced its own policy — to support employees undertaking the journey to their true gender identity.

ANZ’s leave will cover employees who are taking steps to affirm their gender, either social (dressing or stylising, changing pronouns or name), medical (surgery, hormone therapy, appointments), or legal affirmation (changing the name or gender marker on a passport, birth certificate, or driver’s license).

“There are many ways an individual can affirm their gender, and the extended leave recognises the process needs time and is not the same for everyone,” ANZ said in a statement on Monday, while adding staff can take up to 12 months’ unpaid leave too.

ANZ’s policy covers both its Australian and New Zealand workforce. Stuff spoke to a Kiwi staff member known as “Alex” who said, importantly, “it means that transitioning is no longer classified as a ‘sickness'”.

Alex used his sick leave to transition and, at the time, said he felt stressed about a situation where he fell ill in future but had depleted his paid sick days on his surgeries.

“I’d have to choose between coming to work when I was unwell and getting paid, or staying home to recover without pay,” he said.

ANZ’s diversity and inclusion lead Fiona MacDonald said point this was particularly important “as research shows that trans and gender diverse people are more likely to experience lower incomes and employment rates”.

Last month, Coles announced it would offer 10 days of paid gender affirmation leave, saying it had at least 900 team members who identify as trans or gender diverse who should feel seen and heard in the workplace.

But it was also about providing a purpose-built policy that allows for better clarity for human resourcing purposes, explained Coles’ chief legal and security officer David Brewster.

“We need to have proper policy and education in this area so there is clear guidance around taking leave for this important transition in their life,” he said.

In September, Zurich Australia and New Zealand introduced its own gender affirmation policy offering four weeks of paid leave to transitioning employees.

Rodney Hanratty, head of HR at Zurich Australia and New Zealand, said the policy “provides individuals flexibility, support and time to undertake their journey in a way that suits them”.

“We believe everyone has the right to be supported in the workplace and this policy reflects our commitment to recognise our diverse voices, be inclusive, drive equity and ensure our people can feel a strong sense of belonging,” he added.

Zurich, which developed its policy with input from the company’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, PrideZ, also offers up to 12 months unpaid leave for transitioning.

In 2019, the ABC introduced 10 days of Gender Affirmation Leave in their employee policy, but told ScreenHub it was hardly the first, naming IBM, Accenture, Westpac, and Deakin University, and the Victorian public sector as other workplaces where the policy is also in play.


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