“Fundamentally, it’s about doing what’s right for our employees,” is how Steve Collinson, Zurich’s head of human resources in the UK, puts it as the insurer introduces family-friendly policies for its 4,500-strong workforce in Britain.
The policies include an equalised approach to company-enhanced maternity, adoption, and paternity leave as well as support for premature births, with additional paid leave for the premature period. Also, in addition to a new bereavement and compassionate leave policy, Zurich is offering paid leave to staff who undergo vitro fertilisation and those who suffer a miscarriage.
The launch comes amid the government’s ongoing consultation on parental leave and pay.
Welcoming the development is MP for North Swindon and Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Justin Tomlinson, who himself is a first-time father this year and is “acutely aware” of how crucial the first few weeks and months are. Tomlinson believes allowing both parents to share this time helps to develop important family bonds.
“Zurich’s equalisation of maternity and paternity leave and broader approach to family-friendly working is an excellent example of a big UK employer leading the way,” he asserted. “Working practices like these help to support gender equality and create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.”
The company’s equalised approach will come into force on December 19.
Collinson, who said they are “hugely proud” to be announcing the changes, added: “As well as having some hugely talented people at Zurich that we want to keep hold of, we’re keen to attract new talent and believe offering a family-friendly workplace, which includes flexible working options for all parents, is a step in the right direction.”
Also welcoming the development is work-life balance charity Working Families, the chief executive of which, Jane van Zyl, had this to say: “As an employer member of Working Families, Zurich is committed to family-friendly and flexible policy and practice. We are delighted that Zurich has taken the important step of introducing 16 weeks of fully paid maternity, paternity, and adoption leave.
“Alongside the company’s stellar flexible recruitment policies, these new parental entitlements will go a long way toward creating a supportive, gender-equal, and embedded flexible working culture – which is exactly what we need from employers to help close the gender pay gap.”