KPMG has a new boss in Australia with Andrew Yates starting as CEO on Thursday. And he’s wasted no time in addressing the accounting firm’s paid parental leave scheme — extending it to 26 weeks, with no “primary” or “secondary” carer status and regardless of how long a staff member has been with the firm.
This sets a massive benchmark on paid parental leave across Australia, given very few firms offer such lengthy paid stints of leave. It’s also revolutionary given that those employers that get anywhere close to offering 26 weeks, don’t do it regardless of “primary” carer status and usually request a waiting period of 12 or so months employment before an employee can access it.
Yates made the announcement on his first day in the job, sharing the news remotely given staff are working from home. He said he’s been working with the firm’s chair, Alison Kitchen, who has long been advocating for parental leave (the pair are pictured above). Yates also used the announcement to tell the media he wants to see other employers following KPMG’s lead, saying that this about doing what “is right”.
What was really great about this announcement was that Yates took the opportunity to also address leave programs that go beyond parenting. He outlined an upgrade to the firm’s leave program that will see staff able to “float” public holidays and to transfer existing public holidays to other points in the calendar that have cultural or religious significance. He also announced that indigenous employees will be able to access cultural and ceremonial leave in order to participate in significant dates and events.
The 26 weeks of paid parental leave can be accessed flexibly at any point within the first 24 months of a child’s birth. It also applies to new parents welcoming a new child through adoption, surrogacy and foster care.
It’s a big step up from the 18 weeks KPMG is currently offereding for ‘primary’ carer staff who have worked with the firm for more than five years and three weeks for ‘secondary’ carer staff (dropping to 14 weeks for less than 5 years and three weeks for ‘secondary’ carers).
Under the refreshed policy, the firm is also extending its compassionate leave for staff members who face miscarriage and stillbirth.
This new announcement is also promising in the message it may send to policymakers, given KPMG has this year been advocating for reform of the government paid parental leave scheme to better support families.
KPMG’s comprehensive proposal for change is built around better “shared parental responsibilities”, encouraging an economy that gives both parents the opportunity to work while also being able to spend time with young children. It’s pushing for the scheme to extend to 26 weeks over six years, saying doing so would give fathers more opportunities to stay home and deliver a $140 billion increase in living standards to Australia. They say the scheme should allow each parent to access a maximum of 18 weeks of this leave, with the idea the other parent takes the remainder or that it’s shared equally or flexibly in some other way.