Zurich offers parents ‘lockdown leave’ to help with childcare

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Zurich is offering two weeks’ fully-paid emergency ‘lockdown leave’ to parents and carers affected by school closures.

The Swiss insurance company expects that more than one in five of its 4,500 UK-based employees will benefit from the new entitlement, which gives parents and carers an additional 10 days’ paid leave which can be taken individually or consecutively while primary and secondary schools are closed.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR, said: “With schools closed, working parents will be frantically trying to juggle their jobs and childcare responsibilities. We already offer flexibility for employees who want to change their working hours or structure some days differently.  But for parents trying to balance work, childcare and home schooling, this may not be enough.

“We’re helping our employees get through this crisis by offering mums and dads paid time-off so they can look after their health and their family. This is also available for anyone with other caring commitments.”

The TUC earlier this week urged employers to make use of the furlough scheme to help parents affected by school closures.

Zurich also offers numerous other family-friendly benefits to its UK workforce, including 16 weeks fully-paid leave to all parents, including for adoptive parents; paid leave for parents whose child is born prematurely; paid leave to support IVF; paid leave to support people with miscarriage; and bereavement and compassionate leave.

All jobs at the firm are advertised as available part time, full time or as a job share, and 75% of its workforce worked from home when they needed before the pandemic.

Other benefits offered to employees during the Covid-19 crisis have included free antibody tests to staff, their partners and over 18s they live with; car park season ticket refunds; emergency loans of up to £750 per person; and the option to reduce pension salary sacrifice for a year.

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