If you have been working for a decade or more, it is likely that you would have noticed a significant change in the kind of approach organizations are taking towards their leave policies. With the change in the workforce demographics and younger talent flooding our corporate space, the purpose of giving leave itself has started undergoing a transition.
Let us take a quick look at some best practices that are emerging. Casual and Sick Leave provisions have remained the same to a large extent, and usually provided as per what is mandated by law. Most organizations provide 8 days of CL and between 10-15 days of SL.
Maternity Leave is now being provided as per the new Act in 2017, at 26 weeks, across Corporate India. However some future-focused organizations have great practices in Paternity Leave too.
The average Paternity Leave, as offered by companies in India is for 10 days post childbirth and the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017, is still under discussion in Parliament. Even so, some companies offer great paternity leave policies beyond that too, such as Johnson & Johnson India (Eight weeks), and IKEA India as well as Deutsche Bank (6 months). Microsoft India has also extended its paternity leave to six weeks from two weeks. FlipKart has a unique provision where for the first three months, fathers can also opt for working four hours at office and then completing the rest of their work from home.
Another new employee friendly best practice is that of Leave Sharing or Pooling. Accenture India has introduced a policy called ‘Hours That Help’, which allows employees to donate their leaves to their colleagues. Similarly, Apollo Munich Health Insurance encourages its employees to donate leave to the leave bank. Companies like Housing.com and Nielsen also have the leave-sharing provisions for their employees.
In line with the needs of the new-age employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, many organizations have started providing Sabbaticals or specific leave for pursuing an interest. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) gives all employees privilege leave for 14 days a year to recuperate and pursue an activity, as per their policy. They also have the provision for six months leave on half pay, for any illness or to take a sabbatical. Genpact permits employees to go on sabbatical ranging from three months to a year to acquire new skills or pursue higher education. Philips India allows them to take sabbatical leave of six months to a year.
Many individuals are more socially aware now. To encourage them in being more community focused, companies have created leave policies around Social Service. SAP provides fully paid “social service leave” for a month. Infosys has the ‘Community Empathy Sabbatical Policy’ which provides employees with monetary support and the choice to come back to normal work schedule on the successful completion of social projects that may last six months to a year. In Vodafone India, the staffers have donated over 56,000 man-hours working on 128 different social projects with diverse NGOs of their choice up to over eight weeks.
There are companies which also offer Bereavement Leave, on compassionate grounds to cope up with the loss of a loved one. Usual practice is 1 to 5 days. Companies like Facebook are an exception here with 20 days.
Apart from the above there are a few companies which have made the choice of leave also flexible or free of approval from managers. For example, CommonFloor has institutionalised “extended weekends” from this financial year. This is planned around key holidays, where the entire company gets 4-5 days off. Also, FactSet India, offers employees a Flexi Holidays program (allows employees the flexibility of working on holidays such as Holi and Christmas and instead staying away on days of their choice). InMobi has instituted a system where employees don’t need their supervisor’s approval to take up to six days of leave. At the Godrej Group, an employee can take as many days off as required if unwell, compared with the earlier quota of 10 days, after informing the supervisor. The unlimited sick leave policy has brought down the average number of sick days.
Such best practices show the forward thinking approach of some segments of Corporate India. They are defining the kind of policies that will ensure that employees give their best at work.