As of January 1st 2017, AXA Group is launching a new parenting policy to support employees in most of the 64 countries in which it operates worldwide. Regardless of their family situation, all AXA Group employees will receive a minimum of 16 weeks and 4 weeks fully paid maternity and paternity leave, respectively.
According to a press release, the new policy does not restrict the right to maternal or paternal leave to traditional couples. Instead it refers to the different types of leave as "maternity or primary parent leave" and "paternity or co-parent leave", suggesting same-sex couples and those who are adopting are eligible too.
“This global policy gives all AXA employees the same rights and opportunities when expanding their family," said Thomas Buberl, group chief executive officer of AXA, in a press release. He added: "I am convinced that a good balance between professional and private life is absolutely necessary to the performance and professional fulfillment of our employees."
The company did state that the policy will be rolled out according to local market legislation and "taking into account social and cultural factors".
In addition to giving employees the opportunity to adjust to their new family situation and spend time with their newborn, the company continues its support after the parental leave ends. As part of the new policy AXA guarantees that employees who take advantage of the time off can come back to an equivalent role with the same salary and benefit structure upon their return.
By taking away some of the worry with regards to returning to work, the company not only allows new parents to welcome their child in a more relaxed manner, it also increases the likelihood of the employee's return which could help reduce the leaky pipeline phenomenon.
In Asia, countries benefitting from the new policy include Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Japan. China and South Korea are excluded, for now.
Shubhro Mitra, regional chief human resources officer, AXA Asia, said: “Parenting is a rewarding experience and as a caring employer, we want to ensure we provide our employees with the resources to support them on this journey. This is uniquely important for Asia where family is considered the cornerstone of culture and tradition."
According to AXA, the new parental policy generally exceeds the legal minimum in Asia and will positively impact more than 23,000 employees.
When asked about the most compelling business argument behind the conceptualisation of the new policy, Mitra told Human Resources magazine: "The policy is an important cornerstone of any employee value proposition and creates a significant competitive advantage in attracting talent for the needs of our ongoing success."
He furthermore reiterated the statement from the group chief executive officer that the policy is part of providing a good balance between professional and private life which can help improve the performance and professional fulfilment of AXA's employees.
He concluded: "AXA is committed to creating a working environment where all employees are treated with dignity and respect and where individual differences are valued."
An example of that respect can be found in the fact that the company has not put any system of checks and balances in place to prevent misuse of the policy.
"A cornerstone of AXA’s culture is one of trust and integrity", Mitra said. "And while we do not plan to have an instigative approach, this is a critical life event which we hope is not open to misuse."
Feedback on the policy will be gathered on an ongoing basis through AXA's annual employee survey, as well as through regular diversity and inclusion leadership team meetings aimed at sharing good practices and collecting feedback.
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