From generous paid parental leave, to grandparent leave and ‘life leave’: The change we can all learn from

grandparent family parental leave

Source: Unsplash/Benjamin Elliott

There’s something of a change happening and it’s one with untold benefits. 

Companies, both here in Australia and overseas, are increasingly adopting more generous and flexible parental leave policies as they strive to become more inclusive. These new policies offer greater financial support for new parents and even new grandparents, recognising that it really does take a village to raise a child.  

Pinterest is the latest of the social media platforms to join this trend, this week announcing an expanded parental leave policy for its global employees that includes a minimum of 20 weeks paid leave, increased financial support for adoptive parents, eight weeks paid leave for parents with newborns in the NICU, miscarriage leave and access to IVF and egg freezing. 

New parents at Pinterest can also return to work gradually over four weeks and work the equivalent of one full day each week on full pay. 

Australian grown tech startup 99designs, now owned by Vistaprint, rolled out its new parental leave policy in October, while the likes of social media startup Linktree and furniture retailer Brosa have also added greater support for new parents in their workplaces. 

In the UK, travel and insurance company Saga has gone a step further, offering one week paid leave for employees on the birth of a new grandchild, plus access to onsite childcare facilities for grandchildren of its 2500 employees. 

The company’s core group of customers are aged over 50 and the new policy aims to recognise the essential role grandparents play in childcare, while also being “a symbol of how important older workers are to their companies and society”, according to chief people officer Jane Storm. 

Of course there is still much more to do to support new parents, especially women, as the latest figures around the ‘motherhood penalty’ show. The reality is many Australian families don’t have access to any paid parental leave from their employers, which is why business groups are pushing for the federal government’s parental leave scheme to be expanded and more easily shared between both parents

Both paid parental leave and access to affordable childcare are key factors in helping new parents stay connected to their workplaces, and ultimately, ensuring they don’t leave the workforce. 

It’s also true that not all small businesses are in a financial position to be able to offer generous paid parental leave schemes, including to themselves. Self-employed women are often the forgotten group in this discussion

However, there is something we can learn from the companies rolling out new parental leave policies, and that’s how they are seeing and understanding their staff as people outside of their roles at work. 

People who have families, people who are going through exciting and challenging transitions in their lives, people who are learning new skills that can bring real value to their workplaces. 

Similar ideas are at play at companies like Finder, where 500 permanent employees now have access to an additional five days of paid ‘life leave’, which can be used for life’s special occasions, such as “paw-ternity” leave when looking after a new pet, moving houses, or a child’s first day of school.

“Work-life balance is a myth, this is about work-life integration and we want to support our crew both inside and outside of work,” said Finder’s chief people officer Shanyn Payne.

“You get the most out of people when they feel supported and looked after.”

As we continue to navigate the post-COVID work environment — Great Resignation or not — these human-centric policies, however small, should be celebrated and encouraged. 


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