Around Australia, workers enjoy around a dozen public holidays each year, on significant religious and cultural dates.
For those employees who aren’t Christian or have little to no interest in the Queen’s Birthday, these dates can seem irrelevant. These employees would much rather have a day off to celebrate Diwali or the Lunar New Year, for instance.
That’s where the concept of “floating leave” comes in. A truly inclusive initiative, floating leave enables employees to “swap out” an irrelevant public holiday for a day that is significant to them.
Companies such as KPMG and Spotify have embraced floating leave, believing it to be integral to an inclusive workplace. In fact, it’s been proven that cultural diversity and inclusivity can only benefit a company, significantly improving productivity and profitability.
At KPMG, floating leave is currently focused on recognising cultural holidays. Spotify, meanwhile, encourage employees to use the time for any date that is important to them.
The Fair Work Ombudsman encourages all Australian employers to embrace floating leave, saying: “Recognising and embracing diversity in the workplace helps staff feel valued for their unique qualities, ideas and perspectives and extends to recognising that staff may wish to celebrate culturally important or religious days and events throughout the year. Some examples of cultural or religious holidays include Lunar New Year, Diwali, Ramadan and NAIDOC Week.”
According to Fair Work, employers should support the needs of employees participating in cultural or religious holidays by:
- agreeing with employees to use leave entitlements to take time off work
- acknowledging or celebrating these holidays in the workplace to promote awareness and inclusion
- agreeing to a change in working arrangements, such as a change to hours, patterns or locations of work to accommodate the holiday.
There is no real downside to floating leave, provided it is implemented openly, fairly and with clear processes and systems in place. As with all new workplace policies, processes should be clearly documented and communicated, ensuring every employer knows and understands their rights around floating leave.
By implementing floating leave, you’ll be well on the way to creating a truly inclusive and diverse workplace that openly celebrates all religions and cultures. If you would help with this or any other HR issue please reach out to the HR Dept.