Law firm DLA Piper announces market-leading parental leave policy

'We are proud to be leading the private practice legal market in New Zealand'

Law firm DLA Piper announces market-leading parental leave policy

Law firm DLA Piper has announced a new market-leading parental leave policy to support a more diverse and inclusive workforce in New Zealand.

As part of the new benefit, the company will top up the government-paid allowance for primary carers to their full salary for 26 weeks, regardless of tenure. Secondary carers will receive four weeks of paid parental leave and the company will continue to pay Kiwisaver contributions for the duration of both paid and unpaid leave.

Speaking to HRD, Misha Henaghan, a partner at DLA Piper, said over the past five years, primary carer’s leave has been taken exclusively by the firm’s female staff.

“Whilst this may change over time, having a supportive and inclusive parental leave policy for primary carers is hugely important to support and retain the vast talent of working mothers in the legal industry,” she said. “As one of New Zealand’s most female-friendly law firms, we are always consciously and deliberately trying to remove obstacles that women may face in their career progression.

“Similarly, having a policy that supports secondary carers, which is traditionally working fathers, also assists with changing societal views on fathers taking time off to be with their children.

“We are very proud to be leading the private practice legal market in New Zealand with our enhanced parental leave offering to all our staff.”

Read more: Meghan Markle to help women return to work

From her own experience, Henaghan said her husband took primary carer’s leave when their second child was born and currently works part time. But he is among the minority of dads doing so in New Zealand.

“He has not, to date, met any other fathers doing what he is doing,” she said.

While the number of women working in the legal sector in New Zealand has risen considerably in the past few decades, there are inequalities in the number of females achieving senior positions. According to the New Zealand Law Society, women are severely underrepresented in senior legal roles – and taking extended periods of leave from the workplace is a significant factor.

While women make up 61% of lawyers who work in law firms with more than one practitioner, only 31% of partners or directors in those firms are female. The hourly charge out rate is also lower for women by around 7-10%.

Read more: Fonterra overhauls parental leave package to drive diversity

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