Spark New Zealand has today announced a new parental leave offering – Whakapuāwai – that provides a more inclusive and supportive environment for eligible Spark employees about to embark on their parenthood journey.
Whakapuāwai, which means ‘to cause to blossom’, will see Spark top-up the Government’s parental leave contributions so that Spark employees who are primary carers receive 100% of their normal salary for 26 weeks, with continued employer KiwiSaver contributions of 3% during their parental leave period. Secondary carers will also receive four weeks paid leave (increased from two), so they can be present to support their partner and whānau during those pivotal first few weeks of their baby’s life.
The package also includes a phased return to work policy for primary carers, who can work 80% of their
regular hours on 100% salary for the first three months of their return. Recognising the critical role of peer-to-peer support, Whakapuāwai will also see the creation of a new parents’ support network to help reduce the isolation and separation anxiety that parents can often experience when they return to
work after parental leave.
Heather Polglase, People and Culture Director at Spark, says Whakapuāwai was co-designed in partnership with Spark people who had recently returned from, or were about to embark on, parental leave.
“Having a baby is an incredible time in a person’s life, but it can also be quite stressful, particularly in those early months as families adjust to their new normal.
“We wanted to better support our people who are growing their families, so we asked them what they needed. They named parental leave contributions, paid secondary carer leave, and better support for
transitioning back to work as the key things that would make their parenthood journey easier.
“So, we designed a more holistic package with this feedback in mind. We hope that Whakapuāwai makes it a bit easier for our Spark whānau to enjoy this special time, and transition back to work in a way that works for them.”
The new employee parental leave package supports Spark’s commitment to achieving 40:40:20 gender representation company-wide and reducing its gender pay gap, and is available to all eligible employees, regardless of gender, sexuality, age or whether the parent is giving birth to, or adopting a child.
In creating the package Spark also considered recent gender data released by KiwiSaver from Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission, which shows women have 20 percent less in retirement savings than men.
“Whakapuāwai supports our diversity and inclusion ambitions by making it easier for families in all forms to balance life at home and at work, and by ensuring no one is disadvantaged at retirement
due to lost KiwiSaver contributions.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we want to make sure we are part of that village by
creating supportive conditions for our people who are embarking on this important journey of parenthood.”
Notes to the editor:
Whakapuāwai, Spark’s enhanced employee parental leave offering includes:
- Spark to top up Government parental leave contribution to 100% of salary (for 26 weeks).
- Continuation of Kiwisaver at 3% (to be paid through the period of parental leave).
- Four weeks of secondary carers paid leave.
- 80% of regular hours on 100% pay for three-months for the primary carer on return to work after leave.
- Creation of a bespoke parental leave toolkit for leaders and people to make the parental leave journey easier to navigate.
- Specialist wellbeing support and coaching for pre and post phase of parental leave.
- The creation of a new parents’ support network to provide peer-to-peer support when people return to work after parental leave.