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The Big Question: Should companies consider offering their employees 'life leave?'

PUBLISHED: 14:22 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:31 03 September 2019

Will more employers offer life leave in the future? Picture: Getty Images

Will more employers offer life leave in the future? Picture: Getty Images

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Our experts answer this month's burning business question.

Life Leave gives employees the ability to take extra time off for significant life events Picture: Getty ImagesLife Leave gives employees the ability to take extra time off for significant life events Picture: Getty Images

The Question

Molson Coors Brewing Company, which owns Suffolk's leading cider producer Aspall, has launched a new leave benefit of an additional two weeks of paid leave for the purpose of aiding wellbeing.

The benefit, named 'life leave',is part of the organisation's wider Moments that Matter programme, which strives to create an industry-leading approach to work-life balance.

The new policy enables employees to take up to two weeks of paid leave for significant personal situations, such as settling in a new pet, moving house, studying for exams or making the final preparations for a wedding. What are the pros and cons of this approach?

Would it work in other industry sectors? And can we expect to see more of these kind of initiatives in the future?

Carole Burman at HR specialist MAD-HR Picture: David GarrardCarole Burman at HR specialist MAD-HR Picture: David Garrard

'We'll see more of this in the future...' - Carole Burman, MAD-HR

This kind of innovation in employee support is definitely something we'll be seeing a whole lot more of in the years to come.

There are several reasons driving businesses to think along these lines.

Partly, it's to do with an understanding that staff increasingly require flexibility in their professional lives, and that they want to be able to pursue and embrace things which are good for their mental wellbeing and for stronger family units.

It's also about retention of talent - something our clients are always asking us to help them achieve.

Millennials are particularly focused on finding employers which allow them to have a rewarding life both in and out of the workplace.

People might take Life Leave for significant personal situations, such as settling in a new pet, moving house, studying for exams or making the final preparations for a wedding. Picture: Getty ImagesPeople might take Life Leave for significant personal situations, such as settling in a new pet, moving house, studying for exams or making the final preparations for a wedding. Picture: Getty Images

Naturally, introducing a policy like this requires some agility and careful planning from the employer's perspective, but in the main, it can be achieved very easily, to great effect.

'It could backfire if not carefully thought through..' - Julian Outen, Ellisons Solicitors

Novel policies grab headlines but can backfire if not well drafted and carefully thought through.

A number of questions arise: - are there prescribed reasons only, which qualify for leave, or does any reason count? If prescribed, are they more likely to apply to certain cohorts than others; are they potentially discriminatory?

Julian Outen, Ellisons Solicitors Picture: Paul CudmoreJulian Outen, Ellisons Solicitors Picture: Paul Cudmore

As for process, can individuals be refused on business needs; is there a right of appeal; can unused allowance be carried over?

A large increase in employee absence requires planning, and resource. Monitoring and good record-keeping are advised. Above all, any scheme needs to be applied fairly and consistently.

Its introduction as part of a flexible benefits package, where employees can choose their preferred options, could be considered.

'It's a brave move...' - Claire Thorpe, SimpleClick

Claire Thorpe from SimpleClick  Picture: Ross Dean PhotographyClaire Thorpe from SimpleClick Picture: Ross Dean Photography

I love the concept of life leave. This is a really brave move by Molson Coors, and will be fantastic for their staff.

Life today is so busy and fast-paced that it's important for employees to genuinely relax during annual leave. But life happens! Using up two weeks leave when you need to have some work done in the house means that the time left for holidays is pretty much halved for that year.

I can see so many benefits for Molson Coors - their team will feel extremely valued; they'll likely see an increase in staff retention and increased wellbeing across the business.

Of course, there will be a cost associated with it, but this should be viewed as an investment.

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