Since day one, we’ve talked about the fact that life happens in and around work. As we evolve, we work on doing more to bring our main team mission statement to life:
A happy team doing great work with happy clients.
In 2021 we spent a few months critically looking at our existing company policies and making some exciting and meaningful decisions about what a happy team looks like.
Our Maternity Leave is one of the best in the business, and was introduced in early 2018.
We offer 12 weeks full pay, 16 weeks half pay (with SMP for the remainder up to a total of 52 weeks) – and to date two of the team have gone on leave and come back refreshed and ready to go, knowing that the decision to return wasn’t (at least primarily) financially motivated.
We believe strongly in ensuring the path for returning mothers and fathers is as supported as possible, and think it’s time we offered the same support for Paternity Leave and Adoption Leave.
We are now matching our contribution, and offering 12 weeks full pay and 16 weeks half pay for all new dads across the Radioactive group of companies, and any team member growing their family through adoption.
We’ve also introduced Fertility Treatment Leave – three days additional paid leave to attend fertility appointments – and Fostering Leave – one week of fully paid leave to settle a foster child(ren) into your home.
At a time when an international study has just named paternity leave in the UK as the least generous in Europe, UK maternity leave one of the worst paid, and postnatal depression and other mental illnesses in new mums and dads rising, it’s clear something has to change. At Radioactive, that means gender parity for parental leave and recognising that families are made in different ways.
We’re also tackling the disparity in Miscarriage Leave. Currently, leave is only available (outside of sick days) for losses post-24 weeks, with nothing in place for pregnancies that end before that point. At Radioactive, anyone can take up to two weeks leave, fully paid, if they or their partner lose a baby pre-24 weeks. Estimations are that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth and we want to support what is an incredibly difficult time. As part of this new policy, we’re proud to be one of the early signees of the Miscarriage Association’s ‘Pregnancy Loss Pledge‘.
As a business, we now offer up to two weeks fully paid leave following the death of an immediate family member, as well as time off for the funeral. There can be many interpretations as to what constitutes an ‘immediate’ family member (with official definitions describing it as parents, siblings, spouses and children), and the team knows that if and when the time comes we can have that discussion.
We’re also introducing Pet Bereavement Leave as a new policy where team members can take up to a working week’s paid leave after the death of their pet. Again, context is important here, and having discussed these policies at length with the team, there’s a comfort in the knowledge that conversations are there to be had.
A key point in all of these is we’re saying ‘up to’. We recognise that not everybody will necessarily want or need that time, but it’s important to us that, as one of the team said after speaking about the policies, they know where they stand in terms of entitlement.
Our four-day week
This feels like a big one, and here’s where Rich will take over for a second:
We very publicly became one of the first companies in the UK to offer a four-day week for five days’ pay in 2018.
The pandemic fundamentally changed many things for many companies. We’re not ashamed to say that we lost a huge amount of business in the first lockdown, across impacted sectors. We made good use of furlough, and are very proud to say that every staff member that was furloughed is back working full-time. We, very fortunately, didn’t lose a single member of the team.
We thankfully soon rebuilt, and have only grown in headcount and confidence in our ability. We know the broader PR industry was heavily impacted, with almost half of agencies making redundancies during this difficult time.
As we progressed through the pandemic and various lockdowns, the team has been working a few hours on a Friday to pull us through – and, for the time-being, at least, that’s going to continue to be the case.
It makes business sense, and that’s all I can make decisions based on, just like when I made the decision to go four-day in the first place, saying at the time that it was for as long as it worked for us. I’ve felt a pressure to maintain it, through expectation, concern about how the team would take it (they’ve been amazing) and because I’ve been inundated with recent media requests about it, but have to do what’s best for us as I see it, at each turn. I’m making this up as I go, with good support around me, and it seems to be working out well so far, so here’s to winging it to some extent!
For now – and it’s a consideration we’ll be returning to, we’ll be doing a four and a half day working week for five days’ pay, asking team members to work half a day on a Friday from home, whenever works best in the day for them. It still gives time to start the weekend early and support the needs of clients, working out to, in effect, another 26 days of time off each working year.
Day to make a difference
Pre-pandemic, we spoke about how we wanted to use our collective time for good, with the four-day week in mind.
As things begin to balance out, we are keen to ensure we don’t forget that.
On the last Friday of every other month, starting at the end of October, we will be volunteering a few hours of our time and energy to support charities and organisations that can benefit from a helping hand.
At our size now, we’ll be giving dozens of combined hours, and I can only imagine what that looks like and the impact we can have as we continue to grow.
The Family Haven is one such local charity, which provides practical help and support to deprived and vulnerable families with pre-school children living in Gloucestershire. They have been working incredibly hard to help families in need during the pandemic to ensure no loss of support, and as is often the case, they’ve left themselves until last! So, we’ll be going in at the end of October, en masse, to redecorate and spruce up their unloved staff area, to create a much-needed space to unwind.
Our hope is that we can make a measurable impact, however big or small, to our community.
We’ve communicated all of the above to the team, and hope that by sharing these policies and thoughts publicly, we are demonstrating our commitment to our present and future employees! We can’t do this without them, after all.