Attracting top talent and retaining valuable employees is the aim of the game. So, how do businesses stand out in a candidate driven market? Many employers are getting creative when it comes to the leave types offered to employees in order to attract and retain workers looking for more flexible working arrangements.
Life often throws curveballs, and businesses that implement more progressive leave policies demonstrate to employees an understanding that life and work don’t always fit into a neat box. The key here, however, is to ensure that any new leave types implemented align with the needs and requirements of employees through consultation and by gathering feedback. Businesses across Australia are getting creative with different leave policies. We explore a few of them here.
For businesses looking to demonstrate an appreciation for the unique needs of older employees, grandparent leave could be a good option. Businesses have implemented policies where grandparents can access 5 days paid leave to help care for or spend time with a new born grandchild. Similarly, other businesses have allowed up to 12 months unpaid leave in order to care for a grandchild. In a difficult labour market, employers are more likely to take on older talent, so this could be a way to attract those skilled workers.
Menstrual and menopause leave
Offering menstrual and menopause leave to employees often comes with its share of issues. While some may feel it gives special treatment to certain employees, others may feel it reinforces negative stereotypes about people who menstruate. Employers need to consider these and other factors when introducing this type of leave.
Many workers may not feel comfortable disclosing this type of information, so employers must ensure there are strict confidentiality processes in place for employees applying for it. To help avoid any negative sentiment surrounding employees who do access menstrual and menopause leave, workplaces can offer work from home options for those who feel capable of working but might prefer to be at home. This also supports those employees who suffer from disorders such as endometriosis, which makes menstruation very painful, and is unfortunately very common.
Pregnancy loss leave
Under the Fair Work Act, pregnant people are entitled to unpaid special maternity leave if they experience early pregnancy loss after 12 weeks. There is no set timeframe for this leave and it continues until the employee is fit to return to work. Unfortunately, 98% of pregnancy losses happen in the first 12 weeks, and organisations are advocating for employers to offer two days of bereavement leave to employees who suffer a miscarriage during this early period.
While some businesses include this as part of their wider women health leave options, others are going a step further and providing two weeks paid leave for employees who suffer a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks, and four weeks of leave if the loss happens after the 20-week mark.
Sorry Business leave
Part of the First Nations custom of acknowledging grief and loss, Sorry Business ceremonies happen when a community is mourning the death of a loved one, but may also occur when a native title application is unsuccessful, if a community member is sick, or if someone is imprisoned. Some communities actually prohibit meetings and other events during Sorry Business, which means that employees who are impacted will not only need time away from work to attend ceremonies, but will also likely need to scale back on any duties that conflict with Sorry Business. In response, some businesses have introduced leave policies that entitle Indigenous employees to leave in order to participate in cultural and ceremonial practices.
Want to create a high level of employee engagement? Make sure employees feel heard and cared for. Although commonplace in countries like Spain and France, some Australian businesses have now implemented marriage leave in a bid to let employees know that their important life events are also important to the business. Organising a wedding can be very stressful and most, if not all, employees who are in the thick of wedding planning would no doubt appreciate some extra time to prepare for or decompress after the big day.
Life leave is cropping up more and more in business across the country, and is framed as providing workers with the opportunity to travel, relax or pursue personal endeavours. In certain instances, some businesses even offer employees the option to utilise life leave in order to work part-time for a period of time.
Where some businesses offer up to 12 weeks unpaid life leave for employees to simply enjoy themselves, other businesses are providing three days paid life leave which can be taken for any reason at all. This type of leave has been successful in retaining employees who want to explore passions outside of work, as well as attracting new talent to the business. Flexible work policies like this are necessary due to the increased competition for talent.
More than 60 per cent of Australian households have a pet, and with this in mind, some businesses are introducing leave in order to care for a new pet. According to the RSPCA, the first week is crucial bonding time for re-homed animals, so employers are taking note and providing workers with suitable leave to introduce new pets to the household. Interestingly, Gen Z is the largest group of pet owners so businesses that want to attract younger talent could consider leave options like pawternity or pawrental leave to cater to younger candidates.
Flexible public holidays
Employees come from a diverse range of backgrounds and don’t necessarily celebrate all of the allocated public holidays throughout the year. In order to acknowledge the many different religions and cultures in the workplace, some employers are introducing flexible public holidays. Simply put, an employee works on a public holiday and trades that day for another that suits them.
Offering employees flexible types of leave is no longer a nice to have, but a must. Businesses that strive for high levels of employee engagement need to create ways of working that suit employees, and introducing leave policies that allow workers to balance work with life will lead to greater productivity and the ability to retain and attract top talent.
Purchasing additional leave
Some businesses now also have provisions that allow employees to purchase leave through a purchase leave scheme. By paying employees at a reduced percentage of salary over the year, employees can exchange this for additional leave throughout the year. Terms and conditions differ from business to business and will depend on operational requirements, but it’s another option to consider when looking at retaining valuable employees, and attracting new ones.
If you’re considering implementing a new leave policy in your workplace, get in touch with our team who can assist. Find our articles helpful? Remember to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to keep up to date with our practical tips and information for business owners and managers.