The fierce competition for staff across Australia has seen a major bank introduce an unusual new leave policy in a first for the finance sector.
Westpac is now offering its Australian employees an extra week’s leave per year for those wanting to start or expand their family so they can undertake fertility treatment such as IVF and access related medical support.
The leave can also be used for services such as women freezing their eggs prior to wanting to start a family, and will be available in addition to the standard sick leave.
Christine Parker, group executive of human resources at Westpac, estimated it would initially help between 200 and 300 staff a year out of Westpac’s 38,000-strong workforce.
“Fertility treatment is on the rise and helps people to achieve this life milestone,” she said. “However, it also requires a series of medical appointments, sometimes at short notice. With this new benefit, our employees will know that they are supported to attend these, without having to use their annual leave or sick leave.”
Other companies in Australia that offer leave for fertility treatment including NSW public service workers who are provided five days leave a year, as well as PR firms MediaCast and Publicis Groupe.
Law firm DLA Piper takes its leave offer a step further by giving five days paid leave for staff undergoing fertility treatment and two days for employees who are supporting a partner.
Emma Walsh, Parents At Work CEO and founder of the Family Friendly Workplaces said workplaces should be committed to embedding family-friendly practices and supporting employees at an important time in their lives.
“The journey to parenthood can be different for everyone and sometimes challenging,” she said.
“Workplaces can play an important role in responding to the needs of employees going through fertility treatment, so it’s great to see Westpac raising more awareness and providing employees the support they need.”
In July last year, Westpac also announced the introduction of five days of paid leave for people who experience early pregnancy loss in their first 12 weeks.
It comes at a time when unions are set to begin campaigning for 12 days menstrual leave, as well as menopause leave, for Australian workers.
Some private companies already offering their staff menstrual leave including underwear company ModiBodi which allows staff to use 10 days a year of paid leave and gender equality agency Victorian Women’s Trust, while superannuation fund Future Super offers six days.
From next year, 11 million workers will also be able to access to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave, which has been guaranteed by government legislation.
Other Aussie business have also had to get creative with a range of work perks introduced to attract and retain staff.
Last year financial technology company, Iress, introduced more leave for staff, who are able to take six long weekends every year, with no impact on their current annual leave balance or pay.
Meanwhile, Finder introduced five days paid leave for life’s big events on top of its annual and sick leave entitlements, which can be used for anything from heartbreak leave if someone is going through a tough break-up, pet leave or to be there for their kid’s first day of school.
In recent times, companies have also been boosting their paid parental leave policies by up to 26 weeks.
Story Credit: news.com.au