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Published 05 December 2012 05:24, Updated 06 December 2012 05:09
Great Place To Work data shows that it’s not just big companies that can afford to be generous to their employees.
If you are looking for a family-friendly employer, it is hard to go past business analytics company SAS, where mothers are funded for 40 weeks of maternity leave.
While other companies rely on the government’s 18-week parental leave scheme to look after their employees, the US-headquartered SAS pays an additional 22 weeks – which means they get 10 months paid at minimum wage rates.
BRW took a look at data from this year’s Great Place to Work survey to pick out the 20 best employers in terms of parental leave provisions from the list of best workplaces in Australia. It is the best of the best for mothers.
Included in the list are provisions for paid paternity leave because, if you want to keep new mums happy, you will also have the dads at home for a few days to experience the joys of a new baby ... and to help out.
SAS human resources director for South Asia, Brendan Gregor, says the company boosted its already generous maternity leave provisions when the Australian government introduced 18 weeks of paid parental leave (at minimum wage rates) two years ago.
“We wanted to enhance that,” he says. The minimum wage works out to about $600 a week.
“The idea of doing this is because we value the intellectual property [of women].” If women [who make up 35 to 40 per cent of SAS] feel they are being supported by their employer when they take time out to nurture a baby, they will want to return to work, he says.
When they do come back, they may choose to work fewer days. “We try to make it as easy and as comfortable for people coming back to the workforce.”
As an added benefit, the company gives families $300 for a gift for the child.
Many companies do not pay separate paternity leave, but SAS gives two weeks. “We employ people for a number of years,” Gregor says. “By investing in people for a week or two, you get in return great loyalty from employees.”
SAS employees also get “personal leave” instead of sick leave, which means they can take them for any reason and, after employees have been with the company for four years, they get an extra three days holiday a year.
Gregor says there is also employee assistance for those who have problems, financial planning advice and health insurance support to pay up to $500 excess for hospital bills. There are massages at work, flu shots and social club activities for family and friends.
A measurable benefit of these programs is that fewer people leave the company. The annual employee turnover rate at SAS is 15 per cent, in an industry that expects to see between 15 per cent and 18 per cent of people leave each year.
The US-based SAS won the top spot in the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list from Great Place to Work, announced last week.
Director at Great Place to Work Institute Australia, Zrinka Lovrencic, says that over five years of surveying and consulting to companies, she has been gratified to see them increase their maternity and paternity leave benefits, from the old standard of six weeks’ unpaid leave.
The first to move were the financial services companies which brought in paid leave of 12 to 14 weeks when they realised that some of their most valuable people were not returning from maternity leave.
The Great Place to Work data shows that it is not just big companies that can afford to be generous to their employees.
Alluvium Consulting Australia had just 43 employees at the start of the year when the survey data was collected - it has grown to 60 people since, with new offices opening. However, it is still able to offer 14 weeks paid maternity leave.
The CEO of Alluvium, Matt Francey, says the employee-owned consultancy was set up by a group of people who left a large company when it was taken over by a multinational.
“Family friendliness was one of the reasons that they left,” he says. The partners determined they would create a business that would be egalitarian in spirit and would accommodate their young families.
Francey says Alluvium also has personal days, rather than sick days, that total 10 days a year and can accrue year-to-year.
“There are also no barriers to people working from home, as long as the work gets done,” he says.
The employee turnover rate is very small, at 5 per cent per year and Francey says the consultancy has been able to attract very good quality people because of its family-friendly policies.
“people come to work for us because of our reputation as employers,” he says.
In terms of great places to work for fathers, South Yarra promotional marketing company, Zinc, pays five weeks - more than even Google Australia, which offers a month of paid leave to dads. Salesforce.com pays for three weeks.
According to the data supplied to Great Place to Work, the top 20 companies for families are: