In October 2017, Aviva introduced paid carers’ leave, to ensure that members of its 16,000-strong UK employee base could deal with responsibilities and events in their personal lives, without exiting the workplace.
The carers’ leave enables employees who have a dependant, either permanently or in an emergency, to take 10 days of pro-rated, paid leave. This comprises five days of emergency leave and five days of planned leave, and can be taken in as little as one-hour chunks.
Aviva already offers up to eight weeks of unpaid leave for carers, but having a paid policy running alongside this is important for financial wellbeing, says Mary Bright, inclusion and external affairs lead for chief executive officer, UK insurance at Aviva.
She explains: “It alleviates that extra stress. We don’t want [carers] to have to stress about whether they can afford to do it or not; we want them to know that we support them.”
Aviva conducted a six-month pilot of the emergency leave with 100 carers in the first half of 2017. After feedback from participants, the organisation added planned leave to the initiative.
The employer also doubled its paid bereavement leave in October 2017, from one week to two. “We realised that people were going through all of the trauma of caring for somebody who then died, and we didn’t feel as if we had enough in place for end-of-life care and support as well,” Bright explains.
The policy changes were communicated to managers via the organisation’s regular update, Leaders’ Essentials, and launched to employees using a YouTube video and an article on the staff intranet.
Bright concludes: “We know that the financial consequences of leaving work for caring responsibilities can be quite severe. It doesn’t just affect their income while they are a carer, it also affects their ability to re-enter the workforce and has a long-term, knock-on effect on income and financial security.
“We really want to support carers in the short-term, but also support them in the long-term so that people aren’t faced with that awful choice: do they care for somebody they love or do they give up the job that they need?”