Insurer launches lockdown leave scheme for staff

As the UK implements a third national lockdown, one insurer has offered two weeks paid leave for parents who now face a child care crisis.

As the country closed schools and other education and child care facilities Zurich UK has implemented a scheme which offers two weeks paid leave for parents who face childcare emergencies following the closure of schools.

The insurer is offering fully paid time off for employees to help them balance work and childcare commitments or other caring responsibilities.  This will benefit more than one in five of Zurich’s 4,500 UK employees with children.

The underwriter said the new approach allows employees to take an additional 10 days paid leave while primary and secondary schools remain shut.  The days can be taken individually, or consecutively.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR, said: “With schools closed, working parents will be frantically trying to juggle their jobs and childcare responsibilities.  We already offer flexibility for employees who want to change their working hours or structure some days differently.  But for parents trying to balance work, childcare, and home schooling, this may not be enough.  We are helping our employees get through this crisis by offering mums and dads paid time-off so they can look after their health and their family.  This is also available for anyone with other caring commitments.”

Since the start of the lockdown in March Zurich has instigated a range of steps to support its staff.

These include:

  • Free antibody tests for all 4,500 UK staff, their partners and anyone over the age of 18 living at their house.
    > Car park season tickets refunds for all employees until the offices open again, completely at Zurich’s expense
    > Option to reduce pension salary sacrifice for the year
    > Option to sell holiday back to the company
    > The provision of additional free office equipment to ensure safe and effective working from home
    > Launch of a wellbeing hub which includes Babylon, a virtual GP provider for all staff and families
    > Reduced childcare vouchers to just £1
    > Emergency loan of up to £750 per person available 72 hours following approval
    > Access to Lifeworks which includes access to advice and counselling, well-being assessments and coaching