Dr. Wolfgang Siedl, Head of Health Management Consulting and a Partner at Mercer UK, recently wrote about the importance of diversity in wellbeing and it got me thinking about the work companies in Singapore have done in building employee-centric organisations.
As organizations invest heavily in providing a workplace of the future focused on equality through diversity and inclusion evangelism, we need to mirror this effort in examining access to care through our insurance benefits. While we should recognize where boundaries have been pushed and barriers removed, we also need to pause and reflect on where they still exist. A common area where diversity and inclusion may be overlooked is in flexible leaving policies, particularly for new mothers.
Innovative employers have started to provide generous leave options in creative ways – fully paid, part-time basis sabbatical options to support young parents in integrating work, life and a newborn in a bid to retain female talent lost to parenthood. We are seeing employers not only aligning, but exceeding statutory requirements of maternity leave. While these policies allow parents to thrive, we cannot overlook the review of benefits policies and eligibility requirements.
For example, many health insurance providers include an ‘active at work for 6 months’ clause. When maternity leave extends beyond this point, it may result in the employee either losing coverage or returning to work with the same policies of a new employee (pre-existing condition coverage excluded, probationary periods, etc).
It’s difficult to know where to start when it comes to aligning company intention with practices, especially when keeping up with other current initiatives. But, a complete overhaul isn’t always necessary. One of the things we help companies with is to examine current benefit plans alongside people strategy and employee value proposition. This allows us to find out where HR policy doesn’t align with the employee benefits offering.
In many cases, it’s a matter of reviewing and realigning eligibility documentation for things like extended leave and asking the insurance provider to remove things like the actively at work clause from your policy. Small tweaks to your plan can go a long way. When more significant changes are needed, data and expertise are your best friends. You have far more bargaining power than you realise to change the status quo, regardless of your company size. Don’t be afraid to challenge providers to cover things or remove clauses that are important to your organization.
You’d be surprised by the kind of change collective questioning can bring. You owe it to your employees and your value proposition to have policies align with your diversity and inclusion aspirations.