Insurer announces new paternity leave rules

As the global insurance community gets ready for the Dive In diversity festival, Zurich in the UK has announced a new set of Family Friendly policies for all of its 4,500 employees.

The new scheme comes off the back of research which looked at the attitude to fathers when it came to the amount of paternity leave they  not only felt they would like but also how much they really felt they needed.

The survey asked fathers how much time off they took when they became a new dad? Of those surveyed, just under half (49%) said they took between 11-14 days statutory paternity leave, 30% took between 4-10 days though 15% said that they took no time off at all.  Of those that didn’t take statutory paternity leave, almost half (45%) said they couldn’t afford to take the drop in their pay for two weeks.  A further fifth (23%) said that this was down to a heavy workload.

This comes in stark contrast with the amount of time dads would like to take in an ideal world – where the majority (67%) said they’d choose up to 20 weeks and 25% who’d take over 21 weeks.  It seems that this gap is taking its toll with seven in ten dads (72%) agreeing either somewhat or strongly that new fathers tend to suffer emotionally and mentally after the birth of a child and juggling the demands of returning to work.

Forty percent of respondents said that on returning to work, they didn’t feel they’d spent enough time with their new family while 26% said they felt too tired and that performing their job was difficult.

Zurich used the survey to announce its new family friendly policies for employees. These include: an equalised approach to company-enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption leave with up to 16 weeks full-pay for all parents; support for families whose children are born prematurely with additional paid leave for the premature period; paid leave to support through the IVF process; paid leave to support people with miscarriage; a refreshed policy for those with caring responsibilities; and a new bereavement and compassionate leave policy.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HRsaid: “It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of fathers we’ve surveyed do not feel they’re getting the precious time they need to bond with their new families. The current deal for most dads, ultimately impacts both parents and seems outdated given the shifts we’re seeing in family make-up and the roles we play.

“As an employer, we’re hugely proud to be announcing these changes – fundamentally, it’s about doing what’s right for our employees.  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.”

The question for the market is now how many of Zurich’s peers will follow suit?