‘Pawternity leave’ introduced at Hive Legal

Award-nominated law firm Hive Legal has unveiled a new workplace policy whereby staff members can access leave when their pets require medical care or have passed away.

Recently, law firms have started introducing leave policies that, even five years ago, would have been unheard of.

In July 2021, law firm Ashurst launched a 26-week parental leave policy for all staff, regardless of gender identity, which includes a three-month reduction in “chargeable” hours once that staff member returns to work. Late last month, global firm DLA Piper announced its new fertility leave policy, under which staff can access five days of leave in a year and/or two days of leave to support a partner undergoing fertility treatment.

Now, Australian practice Hive Legal – which has been nominated for multiple Lawyers Weekly Awards, and whose staff have taken out three gongs at Lawyers Weekly Awards – has unveiled an update to their workplace policy to better support staff in cases of adoption, bereavement, or veterinary support for their pets.

Under the updated policy, Hive staff can access one day of paid personal leave when they adopt a pet, bereavement, compassionate or personal leave in the instance of a pet’s death, and personal or compassionate leave if a pet is sick and needs medical attention.

In a LinkedIn post, Hive wrote that the firm is “all about #improvingtheexperience” for its employees.

“The Hive fur babies hold a special place in our hearts and, just like our real babies, our fur babies need us too,” the firm proclaimed.

Hive executive director and experience designer Melissa Lyon (who won innovator of the year at the 2020 Australian Law Awards and business development professional of the year at the 2017 Australian Law Awards) also posted on LinkedIn about the “Pawternity leave” policy, noting that it arose as a suggestion the firm had received from its staff and ultimately decided to implement.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Ms Lyon said that every employer should have employee experience “front and centre” when considering its leave policies.

“Improving the experience for our team of Hivesters is central to Hive’s vision and purpose as a firm. Acknowledging that pets play an important part in people’s lives, and the emotional attachment we have with them, is just one way that an employer can improve the experience for their employees,” she proclaimed.

“Pawternity leave” is just one of numerous updates that Hive has made to its workplace policies recently.

Ms Lyon said, following the aforementioned feedback round, the firm has also introduced a floating public holiday allowance whereby staff can “swap out one Australian public holiday for another day during the year so they can celebrate a significant religious or cultural event”. It has also included leave provisions in cases of domestic and family violence, increased its parental leave entitlements and expanded the definition of “expectant parent” for the purposes of that leave.

“We also recently held a ‘Hive Wellbeing Day’, where we closed the virtual office for a day and gave the Hivesters an additional paid day of leave to do whatever they needed to do to improve their wellbeing,” she added.

“Asking the Hivesters what they needed and what matters to them, in terms of leave, has resulted in a policy that caters for the diversity of our team and changing times.”

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