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BusinessJune 25, 2018

The workplaces doing the most for working parents

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For no particular reason we’re celebrating Kiwi companies that are being a bit extra, for the good of working parents.

We know the drill. It’s the hardest job you’ll ever have. Working, parenting – parenting, working. It’s tough.

We’ve got a bunch of in-built safety nets via our labour laws which (hopefully) ensure parents with jobs get time to be parents. We have rules about hours worked, and we have to be given time off. We’ve got rules about holidays, sick leave, all of that.

And of course, there is paid parental leave.

How do you know if you can get paid parental leave? Rules are as follows: You have worked for at least an average of 10 hours per week for at least any 26 of the 52 weeks up to your due date (or date the child comes into your care). This can be for one employer or a combination of employers even if there were periods where you did not work. Or, if you have been self-employed for at least an average of 10 hours per week for at least any 26 of the 52 weeks up to your due date (or date the child comes into your care).

It’s going up to 22 weeks from 18 weeks on July 1 and then up to 26 weeks by 2020. Paid parental leave tops out at $538.55 a week for the employed, before tax (or the the average of your highest 26 of the last 52 weeks of earnings up to the date the child arrives in your care).

For the self-employed, it’s a payment of $538.55 a week before tax (calculated from average weekly earnings). The minimum payment is $157.50 each week before tax. This payment is for those who earn less than that, or are making a loss.

There is also the Government’s Best Start payment for parents of new babies, which I’d honestly completely failed to take in because we are not having any more kids. No sir. However. “Best Start is a $60 per week payment (up to $3,120 per year) per child for babies born on or after 1 July 2018.” Roll on July 1.

But those are the basics. We all get that stuff. It’s a floor though! And here’s four companies that are treating it as such, and offering a bit extra.


It’s the home of Rheineck, Steinlager, Speights, Waikato Draft and that vicious beer, Lion Ice. But Lion is less than vicious to its working parents.

Lion’s Sophie Kurta says it has a number of programmes for parents including Lionflex (offering flexibility in terms of location, leave entitlement, roles and schedules) which is now being used by half of Lion’s employees. “Flex is one thing that really attracts people to Lion, and is a key reason they stay with us, particularly around key moments in their lives like parenthood, unwell family members or dealing with mental wellbeing.”

Flexible working is not a fad; with MYOB’s April Business Monitor survey reporting 60% of the more than 1000 businesses contacted offer flexi work “including almost one-in-five that make specific work arrangements for staff who are parents”.

Lion has also closed the gender pay gap, Kurta says, and makes sure parents who take time off don’t slip behind by missing pay-rises. “Whilst they are away from the business our primary carers receive a pay-rise either based on their achievement for the year or their previous achievements.,” Kurta says, “this is a key point at which women can get behind.”

In terms of cash, and that most useful thing when you’re a parent, time off to look after your kids, the brewer tops-up the government parental leave for 12 weeks to salary, and offers paid partner leave for secondary carers while a child is aged under 1. The company also offers up to 52 weeks unpaid leave as the primary carer for a child AND they have a club, stop it, called the Lion Cubs, ‘a programme set up for those with new babies to ensure they stay and feel connected to the business while they are away and are getting access to the support they need from Lion’.


Competitive job market? Want to best your rivals and snag the top developer talent? As this article from across the ditch highlights, it’s about a package. “Companies like Atlassian, Xero and Zendesk are amazing. It’s these mid-sized companies that are the most progressive. Atlassian offers 20 weeks paid parental leave and five paid volunteer days a year. Zendesk offers 16 weeks to primary and secondary carers and people go to work at these businesses and get to work on cool products and projects,” Gemma Lloyd, co-founder of jobs board Work180, said.

So what has Xero got for parents? The ASX-listed company provides an additional 10 weeks for primary carer leave, and two weeks for secondary carer leave, over and above the statutory requirements.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse and inclusive company, and supporting people with their new families is just one way we can ensure we are attracting and retaining our people. As a tech company we also feel we have a responsibility to encourage more women into the industry. Our hope is that offering a benefit above what is legislated will make it easier for them,” says Linda Shearer, head of people experience at Xero.


Someone working in media got something extra? Is that fake news? Now, I have to disclose I’m heading to work at Stuff, but as I’ve previously disclosed in this piece, I’m not having any more kids, OK, so this will not benefit me.

The media outlet is doing a bit – there’s an additional eight weeks paid parental leave (paid leave, always happy with that) for primary carers and two weeks paid leave (at base salary rate) for secondary carers. The new policy kicks in next month, now that I am no longer having children. Great. “It felt like the right thing to do for our people and probably should have been tackled earlier,” says chief executive Sinead Boucher. Hard agree.


Look, it’s a bit of an oldie but Vodafone has been topping up paid parental leave since at least 2015. I’ll never forget it, because I spoke to someone working there at the time and she also got a carpark closer to the door. Now that is a parent perk worth having (if there’s not a suitable, timely public transport option to use or you can walk, because that is better).

Vodafone tops-up the government paid parental leave mentioned above to your salary, for 16 weeks, and the telco offers two weeks of paid paternity/partner’s leave to our employees supporting their partner.

Back in 2015, Vodafone adopted what it termed a “bold new policy”. Oh, I’ll let them say it: “A bold new policy will mean primary caregivers who return to Vodafone within 12 months receive full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months. The result? New parents can spend an extra day at home each week during the critical development stages of a child’s life. In addition, soon-to-be mothers will be offered 16 weeks pro-rata paid leave, through an improved company initiative that tops up the government’s Paid Parental Leave to full pay.”

And now it’s not bold at all. And to that I say, bravo.

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