QBE becomes New Zealand’s first “equal parenting” employer
QBE New Zealand is set to change the face of parenting for its employees with the introduction of a new paid parental leave (PPL) initiative – Share the Care – which aims to make parenting, career breaks and flexible working, business as usual for both men and women.
In acknowledgment of the important roles all parents play within a working family, QBE’s Share the Care initiative eliminates the gendered terms of “primary” and “secondary” carer, instead now offering its existing 12-weeks PPL to every new parent.
Additionally, QBE is moving away from the traditional “top up” model, where companies pay the difference between the government’s PPL contribution and the employee’s full pay, to a stand-alone model which pays parents their full salary for up to 12 weeks of their parental leave in addition to any government contribution.
QBE is the first organisation in New Zealand to adopt a gender-equal, flexible paid parental leave policy as it continues its aspiration to foster an inclusive workplace.
Research suggests that becoming a caregiver to a child is one of the biggest disruptions to career growth and a systemic root cause of gender inequality. With this caregiving role historically being placed on the woman, a “motherhood penalty” is often reflected through pay gaps and at CEO and senior executive levels, with recent stats revealing that 27 NZX-listed companies have no women representatives on their boards.
In 2017, only 1 per cent (324) of the 30,000+ parents accessing PPL in New Zealand were men. QBE acknowledges there are barriers that can prevent men playing an active role in the early years of their family’s lives.
QBE aims to counteract these barriers by removing gendered carer labels and through providing flexible options to meet the unique needs of each family. This could include accessing their 12-weeks paid leave by taking two-weeks leave at the time of the child’s birth and following that with one or two day-week portions – for example taking two days of parental leave a week for 25 consecutive weeks – available within a 24-month period following the arrival of the child.
Declan Moore, Chief Customer Officer, QBE New Zealand and Pacific said that the introduction of equality within paid parental leave policies is instrumental in breaking down career barriers for women and enabling men to take a more active parenting role.
“I’m delighted to announce the New Zealand launch of our paid parental leave initiative and believe this is a huge step towards more gender-equality in the workplace, and in the home. We understand there are barriers that prevent men from taking paid parental leave, which in turn impacts on women’s career trajectories once they become a parent.
“We plan on tackling this issue through a family-friendly workplace culture that is supported by inclusive policies and flexible opportunities for each family to navigate around. We are encouraging our senior male leaders to role model the initiative and show others it’s ok to prioritise family. All parents play a critical role in family wellbeing and we’re proud to be the first organisation in New Zealand to adopt equality in the paid parental leave space.”
Vivek Bhatia, CEO, QBE Australia & New Zealand added: “I’m incredibly proud of our new paid parental leave initiative that recognises the important role all parents play in the wellbeing of working families. We launched Share the Care to our Australian employees earlier this year with a fantastic reception around the short and long-term impacts this will have on resetting expectations around caring responsibilities. I’m pleased to extend this policy to our New Zealand employees so they can also explore the benefits.”
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