Westpac introduces premature birth leave, enhances parental leave policy

Christine Parker, Group Executive Human Resources, Westpac

Westpac announced enhancements to its parental leave policy to support employees.

These enhancements include paid parental leave up to 16 weeks (up from 13) for primary carers, and the introduction of special paid parental leave for premature birth.

Westpac’s parental premature birth leave policy

Support for premature birth means if an employee has a pre-term birth (before 37 weeks), they will be entitled to special paid parental leave in addition to the standard parental paid leave.

Westpac Group executive Christine Parker said, “Pregnancy is an exciting time in people’s lives but can also bring challenges, especially for families with a pre-term baby.”

“This additional support for premature birth is envisaged in and about helping our people during this challenging time before they start their parental leave entitlement.”

“Individual experiences with pregnancy are different and we want to ensure we’re providing the best support to parents and carers in important life moments,” Ms Parker said.

Inspiration behind Westpac’s premature birth leave

The Miracle Babies Foundation supports premature and sick newborns and their families.

The foundation asserts that every year more than 48,000 newborn babies in Australia require the help of a neonatal intensive care unit or a special care nursery.

Miracle Babies Foundation CEO, Kylie Pussell said, “Westpac is leading the private sector by introducing premature birth leave and we warmly welcome this initiative.”

“Parents can be with their premature babies who require specialised care. Having employers with supportive leave policies is valuable in helping to lessen the stress burden on families.”

Enhancements to Westpac’s parental leave policy effective 1st October 2021 include,

  • Increased paid parental leave from 13 to 16 weeks for primary carers
  • Increased paid parental leave from 3 to 4 weeks for support carers and an extension of the period when they can take the leave from one year to two years
  • Special paid parental leave entitlements for premature birth until the 37th week

In July this year, Westpac also announced the introduction of five days of paid leave for employees who experience early pregnancy loss in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy.