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5 new leave policies gaining traction in Australia

By Emma Musgrave | |5 minute read

Australian employers are broadening their leave policies as a way to attract and retain staff amid a tight labour market.

According to HR firm ASPL Group, employers are considering implementing a range of options as a way to drum up interest in their company and as a means to secure talent long-term. 

Kris Grant, chief executive, said the increasingly broader leave policies cater for a more diverse workforce and allow for more flexibility in the workplace and a greater understanding of employees’ circumstances. Any leave policies implemented, however, need to be given proper consideration, she said.


“There needs to be some consultation first with your staff and consideration of what will actually help your organisation,” Ms Grant said.

“Take the time to ask your employees, ‘Do you want more time with your children?’ or ‘Would grandparent leave suit you?’.” 

Below are five policies Ms Grant recommended other HR leaders look at.

1. Menstruation and menopause leave

Menstruation and menopause leave are types of paid leave given to female employees who are experiencing menstrual-related health issues or symptoms of menopause.

According to Ms Grant, this type of leave can help individuals manage their symptoms, which may include pain and nausea, and help women to maintain their health and wellbeing in the workforce. It can also help to avoid potential productivity losses, she said.

“However, the availability of menstrual and menopause leave can vary significantly by country, industry, and employer and is not always mandated by law. But it is something every employer should consider given women make up around 50 per cent of the workforce,” Ms Grant flagged.

2. Pregnancy loss leave

This leave is granted to employees who have experienced a pregnancy loss, such as a miscarriage, stillbirth, or termination for medical reasons. This type of leave provides employees with the necessary time off to grieve and recover from the emotional and physical effects of pregnancy loss.

“The availability of pregnancy loss leave can vary by industry and employer, and it is not mandated by law in Australia,” Ms Grant said.

“In some cases, employees may be able to use sick leave to take time off for pregnancy loss, while others may have access to specific leave policies that are designed for this purpose. Some employers also offer additional support and resources to employees who have experienced pregnancy loss, such as counselling services or access to support groups.”

3. Vaccine leave 

Vaccine leave refers to paid time off that is granted to employees by their employers to receive a COVID-19 or other vaccine or recover from its side effects.

“The purpose of vaccine leave is to encourage and support employees to get vaccinated, which helps protect their health and safety, as well as that of their colleagues and customers,” Ms Grant said.

“While vaccine leave policies became more common during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not mandated by law. Employers who offer vaccine leave are doing so voluntarily, although some governments have introduced legislation to mandate or incentivise employers to provide paid time off for vaccinations.” 

4. Sorry Business leave 

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples mourn the loss of a family member by following traditional ceremonies and practices, often known as Sorry Business. Sorry Business is an important time of mourning that involves responsibilities and obligations to attend funerals and participate in other cultural events, activities or ceremonies with the community,” Ms Grant said.

“Even though Australian workplace law says that workers can take compassionate leave when someone in their immediate family or household dies (and in some other circumstances), it is important to support your worker to take time off work for Sorry Business, which involves other people.”

5. Gender affirmation leave  

Gender affirmation leave, also known as transition leave, is a type of leave that is granted to employees who are transitioning gender.

“This type of leave allows employees to take time off work to undergo medical procedures, such as hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries, or to attend appointments and consultations related to their transition,” Ms Grant said.

“Gender affirmation leave is just one aspect of creating an inclusive and supportive workplace for transgender and gender-nonconforming employees. Employers can also take other steps, such as providing healthcare benefits that cover gender-affirming care, offering gender-neutral bathrooms, and providing sensitivity training for managers and staff.”