What advertising agencies offer as parental and other leave

Maha Obeid
By Maha Obeid | 10 September 2021

COVID and the pressures of working from home have seen a raft of changes to parental and other leave policies in the advertising industry.

Clemenger Group last month aunched a new parental leave policy aimed at capturing and retaining the best talent. It includes a maximum leave entitlement of 20 weeks for parents and a maximum leave entitlement of four weeks for secondary carers.

GroupM this week announced a partnership with Parents at Work, offering staff across the board access to the online Families Hub.

Other agencies have recognised the need to have leave for a rainy day - with IPG Mediabrands Australia offering five half-doona-days last month and during September so staff can take the moring or afternoon off to recharge.

There has been a huge emphasis on a positive workplace culture to nurture and retain staff and this extends to special leave for carers. 

Publicis Groupe created Cub Care Leave -  an extra five days off work available to both Primary and Secondary Carers. Parents can use in the first 18 months if their child is sick.

AdNews compared policies:

WPP has company-wide parental leave policies for all wholly owned businesses in Australia and New Zealand. These policies include a provision for up to 16 weeks of paid leave for primary carers and 2-4 weeks paid leave for secondary carers, depending on employment length.

Omnicom Media Group
OMG CEO Australia and New Zealand, Peter Horgan: “OMG’s parental policy is well established (2017) and we have long aimed to create an environment that sets parents up for success. And it’s working! Since its implementation, returning parents to OMG has increased from 39% to 92%! Importantly, all OMG policies are gender neutral, to allow families to make primary carer decisions that are right for them.

"It has been heartening to see the number of fathers accessing primary carers leave increase by five times since 2017. These foundations are further supported by our brands through numerous initiatives such as formal flexibility policies and parental handbooks.”

M&C Saatchi
M&C Saatchi chief people officer Nikki Harrison: “Our parental leave is designed to ensure equal opportunity to all parents, including the 'other half' that isn't always working with us and those that are doing it on their own. Our aim is to provide the flexibility needed, and the long-lasting benefits that only come with sharing the primary care of a child (newborn or newly adopted).

"Our policy includes 12 weeks’ paid Primary Carers Leave for all of our people, and two-weeks paid Secondary Carers Leave.

"Over the last 12 months we've had 10 Dads in our business take 12 weeks parental leave. All building a sense of understanding of what it takes to be the 'primary carer' that hasn't existed in generations, supporting their partners’ careers, building relationships in the early period of their child's life and also bringing those learnings back into our business.
We’re conscious that sadly, and way too often, things don't go to plan during pregnancy, and employees or their partner’s experience miscarriage or stillbirth along their journey. We are here to support our team and their family through these incredibly difficult times with access to counselling services and Special Compassionate Leave which is available to all.”

IPG Mediabrands Australia
Covering Maternity, Paternity & Adoption, collectively known as Parental Leave
Paid at base salary:
Continuous Service                 Primary Carer                         Secondary Carer

Over 12 months                       12 weeks                                 4 weeks
Over 2 years                            13 weeks                                 5 weeks
Over 3 years                            14 weeks                                 6 weeks
Over 4 years                            15 weeks                                 7 weeks
Over 5 years                            16 weeks                                 8 weeks

Early pregnancy loss of up to 12 weeks for any employee who suffers a loss of pregnancy, and five days for Primary and Secondary carers.

Special paid parental leave for any employee who suffers a loss of pregnancy between 12 and 20 weeks - eight weeks for Primary Carer, two weeks for Secondary Carer.

Stillbirth from 20 weeks onwards - Primary and Secondary carers can access their full paid parental leave entitlement.

Superannuation benefit
Where people have 12 months’ continuous service prior to an adoption date or date of birth and the employee is taking Primary Carer's leave - Mediabrands will make superannuation contributions on their behalf equal to 10% of their ordinary salary for any period of paid or unpaid leave during the 12 months from the date their leave starts.

Other Leave Policies
Annual leave reward days – Our people have the opportunity to earn reward days over the Christmas/New Year period – generally between 3-5 days.
Birthday leave – People take their birthday off if it falls on a work day
Vaccine time off – People can take time off to receive their vaccine without having to log the time as annual leave or sick leave, etc.
Doona Days – We are currently offering five half (Doona)-days in September for people to have a morning or afternoon off to rest or recharge.
All other leave is as per the legislation (annual leave, sick leave, long service etc).

Havas Group
Havas Australia & New Zealand Chief People Officer, Thierry Lalchere: “At Havas Group we are passionate about enabling our people to live whole and fulfilling lives, both in terms of their career and whatever else that includes for them. We acknowledge that historically our industry hasn’t been an easy place for primary carers of children, and we’re committed to changing that. We know that retaining that deep and diverse talent, institutional memory, values driven behaviour, and the relentless drive to make a meaningful difference – all the traits of our exceptional team - are critical to the ongoing success of our business. So we are committed to supporting all of our people, which is why we have an extensive range of policies across a vast number of areas. In this case we’re particularly focussed on supporting our primary carers to thrive as they grow their families.

"From a parental leave policy perspective this means that at Havas there is no upper limit on your paid parental leave for primary carers. You receive a minimum of three months paid leave and then additional weeks for every year of service with no cap. If our longest serving employee right now welcomed a baby (however that came about), they’d be entitled to over 10 months paid parental leave, which we would be thrilled about! Of course, secondary carers receive at least two weeks leave too. Whilst our people are away on parental leave we know for some new parents they want to keep up their training, or keep in touch with teams or clients, so we offer five paid ‘Staying in Touch’ days as well as inviting them to all agency and Village town halls.

"We also know from feedback and from our experience (80% of our board are parents) that readjusting on the return to work is often the hardest part. That’s why we pay the childcare fees for our people for those first three months and encourage a gradual return to work if that’s what suits families best. For parents of older children we also offer some vacation care in the office each school holidays for our ‘Havas Half Heights’. It’s going to be fun one this upcoming school holidays, with everyone in lockdown we’ve had to opt for daily zoom calls from trained teachers entertaining our little ‘Half Heights’ each morning.

"From a human perspective, we think it’s important to embrace the whole person. That’s why (even though it’s not written into our employee handbook yet) our leaders all ‘leave loudly’ when they’re off to a parent teacher interview or a school concert, and encourage and support their teams to do the same.”

Publicis Groupe 
Publicis Groupe chief talent officer ANZ, Pauly Grant: “We understand that becoming a parent is important to many people. We believe that as an employer, it is our role to do all we can to fully support our staff by helping to provide a smooth transition to parenthood and return to work – while also encouraging both parents to take an active role in their child’s life.”

Publicis Groupe Paid Parental Leave
Our staff have access to Parental Leave of up to 18 weeks (based on tenure) if they are the primary carer of a new-born or adopted child.

‘Secondary Carer Swap’
It’s also important that we give both parents the opportunity to play a significant role in their child’s life, so we introduced the ‘Secondary Carer Swap’ whereby in the child’s first nine months, the secondary carer can swap to become the primary carer.

‘Cub Care’ Leave
We know babies get sick, and we want to help alleviate the stress this places on parents. So we offer both Primary and Secondary Carers with ‘Cub Care’ Leave – an extra five days off work, which parents can use in their child’s first 18 months.

‘Keeping in Touch’ Days
During Parental Leave, we can agree for staff to attend work for up to 10 ‘Keeping in Touch Days’. Keeping in Touch Days are taken so staff can keep in touch with us and ensure that when they are back at work they are still familiar with process and systems. Staff are paid for these days.

While staff are away
While staff are away from work, they can stay in contact with their colleagues and manager and be considered for new roles/promotion if they wish to be.

Dentsu will be "sharing ... parental leave policy in a separate announcement."


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