01 June 2022

Bartier Perry unveils 20-week gender-neutral parental leave policy

This article was originally published by Jerome Doraisamy for Lawyers Weekly (1 June 2022). Related article - Bartier Perry strengthens parental leave policy by Micah Guiao for Australasian Lawyer (3 June 2022)

Sydney-based law firm Bartier Perry, which has 100 lawyers and partners, has introduced a parental leave policy that is, it says, “among the strongest” in Australia’s legal profession.

The new parental leave policy aims, the firm said, to reflect its continued commitment to providing support and flexibility to all working parents, regardless of gender, and recognises the diversity within modern families.

It also looks to enhance equality between parents and demonstrates the firm’s commitment to gender equality, the firm added.

The policy has been announced internally at the firm and has now taken effect.

Included in the policy is up to 20 weeks of paid leave at one’s usual pay rate (regardless of gender), superannuation contributions for the full 20 weeks of leave, and an offer of flexibility for parental leave to be taken at any point after the birth of a child, within the first 24 months.

The firm’s policy removes the definitions of “primary” and “secondary” carers and allows employees to take leave at the same time as their partner.

Speaking about the policy, Bartier Perry chief executive Riana Steyn said: “There’s been a lot of work done in this space in recent years and our starting point was to look at the data across over 50 law firms in Australia to ensure we not only followed best practice but led it.

“Parental leave is not simply about the time off, it is about putting together a comprehensive package that is fair, practical and applies to all parents whatever their specific circumstances.”

The firm’s research, Ms Steyn continued, highlighted that there are “significant inconsistencies” in the market regarding gender-neutral leave, payment of superannuation, eligibility, and flexibility as to when leave could be taken.

“Our approach then was to look at best practice in all of those areas and put in place a policy that would be among the strongest in the market,” she proclaimed.

“I’m proud of the ambition and conviction those across the firm have shown to make sure our parental leave across all areas is second to none.”

The policy introduction at Bartier Perry follows similar updated measures by global firms K&L Gates (in March 2022), Herbert Smith Freehills (also in March 2022), King & Wood Mallesons (in October 2021), and Ashurst (in July 2021).

Lawyers Weekly also spoke with BigLaw firm Clayton Utz in April of this year about how its parental leave program helps female professionals get into senior leadership positions and – post-budget – explored whether governmental changes to paid parental leave will help lawyers