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Grant Thornton UK LLP, Winner 2017, The Allen & Overy Innovation Award

  • Introduction of flexible family leave allowance
  • Shared parental leave enhanced for mothers and fathers
  • Transitional coaching for all employees taking long-term leave

Advisory firm Grant Thornton UK LLP has pioneered a flexible approach to family leave. Their policies recognise that every family is different and individuals are best placed to choose how they tailor their pay to meet their needs. Under the new approach, people on maternity and adoption leave are given a percentage of their salary, and can choose how to use this.

The new policies were developed following feedback from employees that there were financial barriers to taking longer periods of leave, which the previous return-to-work bonus scheme was unable to address. The firm’s CEO, Sacha Romanovitch, and the leadership team were fully supportive of the new approach.

On top of their statutory pay, employees are given a percentage of their salary as a ‘pot’ and can use this to top up their pay while on leave to 50 per cent, 75 per cent or 100 per cent of their weekly pay. They can also choose to take periods of unpaid leave. Mothers and primary adopters can transfer some of their allowance into shared parental leave pay. In addition, fathers/partners are entitled to four weeks’ fully paid shared parental leave, which can be paid flexibly, on top of two weeks’ ordinary paternity leave. These policies are a key part of Grant Thornton’s culture and approach, recognising that every family is different and that their people are best placed to choose how to tailor their pay to meet their needs.

The firm is happy that the introduction of Family Leave Allowance has reduced the number of people taking shorter periods of leave. The number taking nine to 12 months maternity leave has increased by 13 per cent.

A family leave calculator helps employees experiment with different ways of using their allowance. The firm also now offers transitional coaching to all people taking long term leave, facilitated by internal coaches.