Compassionate breaks and 'me days': Wise rolls out employee leave plans

Senior people leader insists it's not for 'gimmicks' but for the creation of genuinely better workplaces

Compassionate breaks and 'me days': Wise rolls out employee leave plans

Technology giant Wise has rolled out a new leave policy for its 3,000-strong workforce across 17 global offices, including Singapore and Malaysia. The leave policy, which will give employees access to minimum holiday, parental leave, and general leave policy - give staff the "flexibility and space to do their best work, regardless of where they area."

As of January, employees, regardless of gender, who have been working for Wise for over a year are now entitled to 18 fully paid weeks of parental leave for a birth or an adoption. Employees may also receive up to 10 days of fully paid leave in case they, their partner, or their baby's surrogate mother suffers from pregnancy loss. In addition, the company is also offering 33 days of annual leave, including local public holidays. A three-day "me day" per year is also extended to help improve worker wellbeing.

Rise of compassionate leave

A six-week paid sabbatical leave is also offered to employees after four years of service at the company. Staff are also entitled to 15 days of sick leave per year, as well as five compassionate leave days annually in cases of emergencies or bereavement.

Kristo Käärmann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Wise, said this is the company's way of "setting the standard of balancing work and personal time."

"We're no strangers to challenging the status quo, and making things work better regardless of where people live," Käärmann said. 

Hayley Bucur, senior people leader at Wise, added that the move was not for "gimmicks" but for the creation of genuinely better workplaces.

"We hope that standardising our global minimums will create a better, and fairer, balance for our Wisers regardless of where they are," the official said.

Compassionate leave is gaining momentum in the HR space, with more and more employees opting to give their people time off for issues such as miscarriages and bereavements. Last year, New Zealand became the first western country to mandate paid time off for employees suffering from stillbirth or miscarriage. Brought out by Labour-Hutt South MP Ginny Anderson, the bill was passed unanimously in Parliament. In an earlier interview with HRD, Cali Gold, head of people at insurance firm YuLife, revealed the reasoning behind their similar company-wide policies.

“After seeing what was happening in New Zealand, it really rang some semi-personal alarm bells,” she told HRD. “As an employer, we have a duty of care and a responsibility to our people. Ultimately, when our colleagues are facing anything to do with miscarriage, they’re forced to use valuable sick days. For us, it was important to implement a policy which gives people both time off and paid leave to look after themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s important that we help eradicate the stigma around talking about these fairly common issues.”

Read our full interview with Gold here.

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