Employees at Westpac NZ are being given five days of Wellbeing Leave every year as a way to help them look after themselves and their families.
More than 4500 employees will benefit from the change, which has been introduced alongside increased entitlements to parental leave, up to four weeks’ paid partners leave for new parents who are not a primary caregiver, and extensions to bereavement leave.
Westpac NZ General Manager of Human Resources and Communications Marc Figgins says the bank has listened to feedback from employees about how to improve their work/life balance and has also talked to First Union about the issue.
“The last 18 months have been hugely challenging for our employees. They’ve adjusted to life in a pandemic while also helping customers through the financial stress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19,” Mr Figgins says.
“As a society we’re now much more aware of the importance of wellbeing, and we place a higher premium on being mentally and physically well.
“By offering this leave we’re giving our people more opportunity to balance work time and family time, without having to choose between the two. We know that is important to them and we also believe a healthier workforce is good for business.”
The bank is increasing its parental leave top up – to an employee’s full pay – from 22 weeks to 26 weeks, introducing four weeks’ paid partners leave for new parents and widening bereavement leave eligibility to cover miscarriages, stillbirth, and more family circumstances.
In May, Westpac commissioned research into the social and economic benefits of men and women sharing domestic responsibilities and paid work more equally.
“One of the key findings of our Sharing the Load report was that men and women wanted to change the split within couples of paid work and things like caring responsibilities. By enhancing these leave entitlements, we’re making it easier for families to share their domestic and work commitments more evenly, and for men, in many cases, to be more involved in parenting from an early stage.
“We know we have more work to do in this area, so we’ll keep talking to our people about how we can continue to help them balance their work and life commitments more effectively.
“Finally, to recognise our people for the extra effort they’ve put in to support our customers during the latest lockdown, we’re also giving them one extra day of COVID-19 Leave to use before the end of this year.”
More information about the benefits available to employees can be found on our website.
Summary of Westpac NZ leave changes and wellbeing initiatives:
- Creating five days’ paid wellbeing leave for employees to use each year, additional to their four weeks’ annual leave entitlements.
- Increasing the parental leave top up payment for eligible employees from 22 weeks to 26 weeks. Under this entitlement, Westpac NZ tops up the government subsidy to their full salary amount.
- Creating four weeks’ paid partners leave for new parents who are supporting primary carers, which they can take up until the first birthday of the child.
- Updating the bereavement leave policy so that if an employee or their partner suffers from a miscarriage or has a stillborn baby, they’re entitled to five days’ leave. If an employee loses a sibling, grandparent or grandchild they will also now be entitled to an extra three days’ leave, bringing the total amount to six days’ leave.
- Offering all permanent and fixed-term employees an extra day of COVID-19 leave to be used before 31 December 2021.