QBE New Zealand equalises and enhances paid parental leave for 210 staff

Vivek Bhatia QBE New Zealand

Insurance organisation QBE New Zealand has equalised its parental leave policy, enabling all new parents to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave within the first 24 months of their child’s birth.

The enhanced paid parental leave initiative, called Share the Care, was announced in August 2019 and will be effective from 1 September 2019.

The policy, which is available for all 210 QBE employees, removes references to primary and secondary carers in order to offer 12 weeks of paid leave to both male and female employees.

The parental leave can be accessed flexibly and does not need to be taken in a continuous block. For example, a parent might take two weeks of leave at their child’s birth, followed by two days of parental leave per week for the remaining consecutive weeks.

The policy aims to normalise parenting, career breaks and flexible working within the workplace, as well as help the organisation to nurture gender equality and an inclusive work environment. The policy also strives to remove some of the barriers that can prevent men from playing an active role in the early years of their child’s life.

Declan Moore, chief customer officer at QBE New Zealand and Pacific, said: “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 [okay] 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.”

In comparison, New Zealand traditionally uses a top-up model, where organisations pay staff members the difference between the government’s parental leave contribution and an employee’s full pay. QBE New Zealand’s approach, on the other hand, awards parents their full salary, in addition to any government contributions.

The improved parental leave initiative was implemented for the organisation’s Australian employees in March 2019.

Vivek Bhatia (pictured), chief executive officer at QBE Australia and 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.”

QBE employs a total of 14,000 staff in 36 countries.