Ernst & Young offers employees 12 weeks of ‘life leave’

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 20 March 2019

The Australian branch of the multinational Ernst & Young accounting company has recognised the need for more flexible work hours and extended time off and is offering its employees six to 12 weeks of ‘life leave’ every year to give them a chance to travel, work part-time, or simply relax.

It’s not paid leave, so employees will need to fund their extra time off, but if they choose to take a three-month travelling sabbatical their jobs will be waiting for them when they return.

Image: Alex Bertha/ Unsplash

This new policy takes effect from 1 April and in an interview with The Independant, Ernst & Young Oceania’s people partner Kate Hillman said, ‘We’re innovating so we don’t lose these people while they pursue passions outside of work.’ She mentioned that it’s not just parents who want and need flexibility but also those who’d like to volunteer overseas, trek through the Himalayas (or partake in other adventures and travel experiences), or be part of extended training programmes.

In addition to life leave (which can be taken as a single block of leave or split into two), the firm is also introducing term-time working, for example for parents who’d like to take time off in the school holidays, and for those who want to do temporary part-time work.

The company has found that employees are 11% more engaged in their job when there is flexibility in the workplace and the firm says it has also considered the demands of millennials, who prioritise flexibility.

‘Millennials are also driving demand for flexibility as their preference for diverse and stimulating career experiences overrides traditional workplace structures and timelines,’ Hillman said.

‘By next year, 80% of EY’s workforce across the globe will be millennials, so this is a particularly significant consideration for us.’

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