Insurance business Aviva operates in Ireland, Canada and in the UK, where it employs 16,000 members of staff. Having been established for 325 years, it is invested in its staff, customers, communities and the planet, in line with its purpose of being “with you today, for a better tomorrow”.
Aviva launched its carers policy in the summer of 2017. In 2020, 536 UK employees each used an average of 11 and a half hours as part of the initiative.
Anthony Fitzpatrick, employee relations and policy lead at Aviva, explains that the organisation’s carers policy offers a wide range of support and benefits for staff with caring responsibilities, including up to 35 hours of paid leave per holiday year for time off for a planned event, like to attend a hospital appointment with the person being cared for.
“Colleagues can also consider what workplace adjustments they could make to help them work to the best of their ability, which includes making informal changes to their working pattern through smart working, either on a temporary or longer-term basis,” Fitzpatrick says. “If a colleague needs a more permanent change, they may request a formal adjustment to their working pattern through a flexible working request, for example they may wish to request part-time hours to help balance long-term carer duties with work.”
Other provisions offered by Aviva to support those with caring responsibilities include up to additional 35 hours of paid leave for emergencies per holiday year and for serious and emotional events to be taken as compassionate leave, as well as the ability to buy up to five days of additional holiday.
If circumstances mean carer staff need a longer period of time off, the business has extended its parental leave to include carers, meaning that they can request up to four weeks per year of unpaid leave, which is 18 weeks in total. A total of 70 hours of paid bereavement leave is also available in the event the person they are caring for dies.
Fitzpatrick believes that there are many benefits to an organisation introducing carer’s leave. “It can alleviate stress that carers may be feeling, reducing sickness absence rates and reduced productivity levels. It also reduces the likelihood of having to recruit, train and induct new people by avoiding situations where colleagues feel their only option is to leave to fulfil caring responsibilities,” he concludes.