EY introduces up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for Australian employees

22 March 2019 Consultancy.com.au

Ernst & Young in Australia has introduced a number of new flexible work initiatives, including the option for employees to take up to 12 weeks of ‘Life Leave’.

As competition for skilled talent continues to get tougher amidst a growing global shortage, and the demand for flexible working conditions becomes ever more common, the Australian arm of global professional services firm Ernst & Young has introduced a trio of new initiatives – with its ‘Life Leave Scheme’ and promise of nearly three months off a year grabbing attention around the world.

From the beginning of next month, local EY employees will have the option to take one or two blocks of up to six weeks of unpaid leave for relaxing, travelling, training or doing whatever they so well please. Or, if the idea of sitting around for a month and a half at a time sounds a tad boring, staff will also have the newly introduced option of converting to part-time work for a period of up to three months.

In addition, parents (and presumably anyone who is inclined) at the Big Four firm can now capitalise on its ‘term-time’ program, whereby those who are willing can work a normal working week during school terms and receive the entirety of the school holidays off – for a four-day working equivalent. It’s the younger set, however, who are driving the change, rather than their more established peers.

EY introduces up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for Australian employees

“These policies are intended to address a growing demand for flexible work environments in general, not just working parents,” said Kate Hillman, a partner in EY’s People & Organisational Change advisory practice. “By next year, 80 per cent of EY’s workforce across the globe will be millennials, so this is a particularly significant consideration for us… We’re innovating so we don’t lose these people while they pursue passions outside of work.”

Citing the firm’s own research that flexibility is the number one driver for retention, and increase employee engagement by 11 percent, Hillman adds that such policies such as the one’s being introduced are necessary in the face of increased competition for talent – despite EY already being both one of Australia’s most desired graduate employers and the third-most attractive worldwide among a global survey of 230,000 business and IT/engineering students.

The firm, however, must compete for top talent with its Big Four rivals, along with smaller consulting players seeking a point of difference – such as the unlimited paid leave offered by Sydney-based strategy and management consultancy Inventium, which according to the firm has reduced the average number of sick days taken by employees to just 1.4 each per year.

For EY’s part, the local initiatives are part of a suite of flexible working measures the firm has been introducing globally, including significantly boosting its paid parental leave across the Middle East and North Africa (locally the firm offers 14 weeks for those who have been with the firm for less than five years, and 18 weeks for longer-term staff).

Recently, EY’s UK arm also introduced paid leave for victims of domestic abuse. 

RelatedDeloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC hiring 2,500 graduates in Australia

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Big Four firms make it to the list of Australia's top 25 employers

18 April 2019 Consultancy.com.au

LinkedIn has come out with its top 25 companies to work for in Australia, and the Big Four accounting and advisory firms all feature on the list. The financial services sector emerged as the most popular, with the top four all being occupied by banking and financial services institutions. 

The list of top companies to work for is prepared for a number of major markets across the globe, and is based on four primary metrics to measure a firm’s popularity. The first is overall interest in the company, measured by the number of visits a firm’s LinkedIn page receives from outsiders.

The second is employee engagement, which examines how many outsiders view the profile of a company’s employees. Thirdly, LinkedIn records the number of applications received by a firm for each opening that it posts, in a bid to measure job demand at the firm. The last metric is employee retention, which is measured by the number of employees that remain at a firm for more than a year. 

All of the Big Four accounting and advisory firms have made the top 25 this year, which corresponds with a drive to employ young talent in these organisations. Early this year, it came to light that the Big Four were cumulatively planning to hire more than 2,500 graduates across the first half of this year.Big Four firms make it to the list of Australia's top 25 employersEngagement with these firms is a highly competitive process, helped along by the prestige and recently introduced comfort that the jobs bring with them. EY placed the lowest of the four on LinkedIn’s list – at 13th – although this might change for next year following its announcement in March this year that employees could potentially take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year in the future. 

KPMG Australia was just ahead of EY, placing in 12th, while Deloitte and PwC made it to the top 10. Deloitte Australia placed in 8th, which can be attributed to a renewed focus in the firm on innovative human resources mechanisms, with the objective of becoming “the most inspiring firm to work with — for its people, its clients and its communities.”

PwC Australia, meanwhile, was the highest ranked accounting and advisory firm in the country in 6th place. Nevertheless, sixth position represents a dip for PwC, given that it has topped the entire list for two years in a row before this. The firm’s popularity is often attributed to its flexibility with employees considerations.

The top four positions on the list were all occupied by banks, namely the Westpac Group, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank in that order. Other big global names on LinkedIn’s list for Australia are Salesforce in 9th and global ecommerce giant Amazon in 10th.