Advertising industry backs COVID-19 vaccinations with extra paid leave

By Maha Obeid and Chris Pash | 23 August 2021
Credit: Ralph (Ravi) Hayden

Advertising agencies have launched internal campaigns making it easier for staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, offering incentives including paid time off.

The industry is generally adopting a pro-vaccination approach but, like most of Australia, not making this mandatory. 

GroupM is a standout, offering a $100 incentive to staff who can demonstrate valid proof of both vaccinations before December 31. This applies to 800 plus staff including those at Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker, Essence and Finecast. 

And a string of industry figures have gone public, via the AdNews series COVID Commentary, with their own stories of getting vaccinated

At Omnicom Media Group, CEO Peter Horgan: “Omnicom Media Group supports and encourages our staff to get the COVID vaccine. By this we mean time off to get the vaccine and also time off to recover.

"As a group, we have always implemented a free, annual flu shot program available for all staff and we hope to be able to implement the same with the COVID vaccine when we all return to the office.”

Michael Rebelo, Publicis Groupe ANZ CEO, after his double jab: "As we look to the future and define our Groupe policy on vaccinations for staff; our true north will be informed by what keeps our people the safest when we come back to the office.”

Publicis has created VACCation Leave (vaccination leave) and three days Covid Care Leave, available until the end of the year. The extra leave is on top of other entitlements, and is available while a state is in lockdown, or under restrictions that prevent staff from working in the office.

“These extra days off is our way of recognising that living under restrictions and confinement can take its toll," Rebelo told AdNews.

"And some days are tougher than others; mentally, emotionally and physically when people are trying to work and manage home life.

“So we wanted to give staff the opportunity to get a bit of time back – to help their kids with home learning, take a wellbeing day, or find ways to provide support to those in need."

At Mediabrands Australia, staff don’t need to use annual leave to get vaccinated.

“If our people choose to have their COVID vaccine during work hours, we encourage them to do so with no need to book the time off," says Kim Lion, Head of Culture & Leadership.

"We are hearing many stories from people who are fully vaccinated or who have had their first shot as their age groups are invited to participate.

"We’ve also got many team members who have proactively sought vaccination ahead of their group by getting AstraZeneca. It’s important to offer this time for appointments and to support their actions."

Mark Coad, Mediabrands Australia CEO, speaking during the AdNews series, rolled up his sleeve to get vaccinated saying “vaccination is our ticket out of this mess”.

At GroupM, staff get paid time off . “We want our staff to be protected and look after their own health so if they need to take leave to get vaccinated, or because they suffer any side effects, we’re encouraging them to talk to their manager to arrange it, and it won’t impact their personal leave entitlement,” says GroupM.

Havas Australia & New Zealand Chief People Officer, Thierry Lalchere: “Havas locally is giving staff special leave in order to get vaccinated, and personal leave afterwards for people who have experienced side effects.”

WPP AUNZ  “We strongly encourage our people to be vaccinated and are providing them with the opportunity to do so within working hours.”

Rose Herceg, WPP AUNZ CSO: “We give our Aussie babies a total of 16 different vaccinations. Because they work. And they’re smart. Think of this COVID vax as one more. Except for big people.”

Jasmin Bedir, CEO, Innocean Australia: "I’ve encouraged my staff to get vaccinated as early as possible, if they require time off for the appointment as well as sick days to deal with side effects, the business will cover for this."

Sue Squillace, CEO, dentsu media ANZ, says vaccination is the path to getting back to a normal life, being outdoors, travelling, socialising and being with teams at work and the energy that this brings.

"I had both my vaccinations at the Homebush Centre and I could not have been more impressed by the operational excellence that I experienced from booking, all the way through to the actual jabs," she says. "I was in and out of there in 30 minutes including wait time - well done NSW." 

Tom Frazer, Managing Partner and General Manager, Half Dome: "High vaccination rates are the only way out of this mess, and whilst I’ve only recently become eligible for the AZ shot, have booked in for my first jab with my wife this week.

"This is so much more than setting a good example for my family or co-workers – this is a once in a lifetime pandemic, and the way I see it, it is our duty to get through this together." 

Neon Treehouse, an Adelaide-born digital agency which has had 213% revenue growth over the past four financial years, is making sure staff are taken care of with Vaccination Leave.

CEO and Founder, Josh White: “This leave includes three hours for both vaccinations. The purpose of this leave is to allow our staff to leave work and attend their pre-booked vaccination appointment. By providing all staff with this leave, we believe the staff will feel supported and encouraged by their workplace to roll up and get their vaccine."


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