For decades, the parental leave policy of many companies provided unequal benefits for primary and secondary carers. In 2018, Medibank launched FamilyFlex, removing all titles and recognising that every parent should have the same opportunity to play an active role in their child’s early life.
Medibank multimedia designer Richard Dennison is looking forward to using FamilyFlex in a way that suits him and his family. Richard and his wife Anna recently welcomed their baby boy Flynn. For any new parent this journey is filled with excitement, unique experiences and challenges.
“Flynn’s arrival has added a whole new dimension to our family and our relationship. It also puts things into perspective. We’re both from New Zealand so our family support network is via video and phone calls. We need to prop each other up, calm each other down and support each other during the tough days.” Richard says.
With wife Anna and baby Flynn.
Medibank’s FamilyFlex policy offers all eligible prospective parents, regardless of whether they’re the primary or secondary carer, 14 weeks of paid leave (28-weeks at half pay) within the first 24 months of birth or adoption. It’s also flexible – parents can choose to take their 14 weeks leave across two different periods. This includes taking leave at the same time as their partner. This significant change sees Medibank leading the way nationally in encouraging equal and shared parenting responsibilities.
“It’s such an amazing offering from Medibank to allow both parents the same benefits. It makes the transition into this new phase a lot easier,” says Richard.
“I took four weeks of leave when Flynn was born and still have 10 weeks left to spread out. I’m not sure yet how I’ll split the time up, but it’s good to know that I can be there when my wife returns to work.”
Richard says the transition into a new family would not have been as easy under the old system. Under the previous policy, the primary carer was eligible for 14 weeks paid leave in one block, and Richard, as the secondary carer, would only be able to take two weeks of paid leave.
“It’s an incredible challenge becoming a parent, let alone for the first time. There are many things to learn that there isn’t a manual for, so to be able to have this extra time is amazing. It’s great to know that my colleagues and I are supported both as employees and as parents. ”
Richard with some of Medibank’s Learning & Development team.
The policy, in conjunction with Medibank’s FlexBetter, is supporting employees by allowing them to work from home or changing their hours to what suits them better.
“With FlexBetter, I’m able to work from home when I need, even after I’ve taken the whole 14 weeks of parental leave. As a new father, I have reflected on the role my own parents played. I lost my father at 17 and want to make sure I’m there for Flynn from day one,” he says.
“Now that I’m a dad, flexibility at work plays an integral part in my life as well as my family’s. It’s an exciting time and I’m so grateful Medibank supports this by letting me be there for them.”