Those who can, should DO – Parental leave scheme

Today we had the pleasure of announcing what I can only describe as the most generous Parental Leave scheme in New Zealand.

6 months ago I woke up and read an article on Parental Leave in the US and steps some great companies (Spotify, Facebook etc) were taking to better provide for their team. And I realised something incredible – My Food Bag was in a position to make this happen in New Zealand.

Being brought up in Sweden, parental leave schemes are very close to my heart and probably the only thing I believe is superior to New Zealand. When we had our son Tom (now 3 ½) I was appalled to realise that there was only 14 weeks paid parental leave.

As many of you know, James and I used to own a childcare business and one of the most heart breaking things, was the lack of choice for many parents as to whether or not (or how fast) they returned to the work force. In fact, we saw it with our own team and at the time, I wished I could have change it. However, Au Pair Link was a small business and there was simply no way that we could financially support our team.

Fast forward 3 years and My Food Bag was growing from strength to strength when my passion was reignited. I turned to James in bed and said ‘we’re implementing a parental leave scheme’. As Co-CEO he manages our CFO and said ‘yes, let’s run the numbers’. I emailed TG (Theresa Gattung) with the headline ‘My new pet project’ and looped in James, she immediately pinged me back an email simply saying ‘yes, I’m in’.

Drafting the plan was easy, we aspired to enable our team to be able to stay at home on paid leave for 9 months with their newborn (18 weeks on government pay and 18 weeks through My Food Bag). We wanted to make the scheme generous and immediately decided that we’d pay our team 100% of their salary if they wished to stay at home full-time. We also wanted to make it flexible, meaning that an MFB team member would be paid up to 160% of their salary for the 18 week period – enabling them to continue working while their partner stayed at home.

We also wanted to acknowledge the ongoing struggle of balancing parenting with a career. Therefore we implemented an additional 6 parental sick days, because as James and I know first hand, kids get sick a lot! We intimately understand the work-life struggle and for that reason we have never been ‘clock watchers’. We want our team to achieve a balance where they feel they are succeeding both at home and in the work force.

For us, running My Food Bag means that we can lead the way and in this instance that means that a whole generation of MFB kiwi kids will be able to spend their first 9 months at home which is a fantastic outcome for future generations.

At the end of the day, those who can should do, for us the decision was easy and we hope many other successful kiwi companies follow suit. Read the NZ Herald article here.