Law firm introduces market-leading changes to parental leave offering

The changes address 'significant gender pay gap' in Australia

Law firm introduces market-leading changes to parental leave offering

Herbert Smith Freehills has just announced significant changes to its Australian parental leave offering effective 1 May 2022.

The firm will extend its paid parental leave offering from 18 weeks to 26 weeks and pay superannuation on both paid and unpaid parental leave up to 52 weeks, becoming the first law firm in the nation to pay superannuation on unpaid leave.

The firm has introduced additional paid leave for people and their partners undergoing fertility treatment or surrogacy. Anyone who suffers a pregnancy loss after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy will also be eligible for 26 weeks of paid parental leave.

The firm’s updated policy has a transitional provision to cover all babies born since 1 January 2022 and maintains a no-distinction policy between primary and secondary carers, meaning the parental leave policy is available to all eligible parents

The firm has also reduced the eligibility criteria for paid parental leave to six months of continuous service instead of 12, ensuring that more of its people can benefit from these changes.

“We are committed to investing in our people and supporting them through their most important career and life milestones. These changes will empower our people to excel, while balancing their vital roles outside the firm,” said executive partner for Australia Andrew Pike.

The changes are part of the firm’s “Life@HSF” benefits program.

“We believe that paying superannuation on the unpaid portion of parental leave is an important step to address the significant gender pay gap that exists in Australia today,” Pike added.

Post-leave support is also available in the form of a bespoke return plan that supports returning parents in managing work, career progression, and family commitments, including a possible reduction in the expected number of chargeable hours.

“We want our people to feel … confident that their career will continue to progress at the firm when they become parents,” said global director of culture and inclusion Danielle Kelly. “Returning from parental leave looks different for everyone and we are committed to making it an experience that is positive for our people’s careers and family lives, as well as their teams.”

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