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Categorized | Banks

Credit Suisse boosts US parental leave

Posted on November 30, 2015

Baby bottle and picture on desk©iStock

BNP Paribas offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave to employees in the US; Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs offer 16. Now Credit Suisse has trumped them all, extending its package to 20 weeks, in a bid to attract and retain top staff in a world of long hours and flat or falling pay.

On Monday the Zurich-headquartered bank said US employees would be eligible for an extra eight weeks of paid parental leave. The policy covers the bank’s 8,500 US workers and applies to both hourly and salaried employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Primary caregivers of either gender are covered by the policy and can take their leave at any time during the first 12 months after the baby is born.

    Elizabeth Donnelly, head of benefits for the Americas at Credit Suisse, said the move was prompted by a review of employees’ usage of the benefits system, which found that women were taking an average of 18 weeks’ leave — six of them unpaid.

    “We felt it was the right time to adjust our policies to be more competitive,” Ms Donnelly said, noting that she considered the bank’s competitors to be “tech firms and hedge funds”, in addition to financial-services firms.

    “I wouldn’t put it in terms of arms race; we just want to attract the best talent. We recognise that millennials are asking for more flexibility and a better integration between work and life,” she said.

    The improvements come as big banks look to hold on to their best people, at a time when some of the brightest of Wall Street are being lured away to Silicon Valley, where total pay can be higher and the hours less arduous.

    The big European banks, in particular, are feeling the squeeze, as some of the biggest overhaul their businesses under new leadership. John Cryan, the new head of Deutsche Bank, has signalled that bonuses may have to drop, if the bank is to boost profitability.

    Overall, pay in investment banks has fallen by a fifth over the past five years, according to research by PwC, as banks have been hit by a combination of tougher regulation and sluggish markets in the wake of the financial crisis.

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    Facebook, whose chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has just had his first child, offers employees four months of paid leave, regardless of where they are located. Netflix, the California-based streaming service, offers unlimited leave to US employees within the first year after a child is born or adopted.

    Morgan Stanley’s policy allows employees who are the primary caregiver to have up to 16 weeks paid time off following the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child, a spokesperson said.

    Goldman Sachs has a three-page list of services to support working parents among its 36,900 employees, including lactation rooms and back-up childcare facilities, both offered on-site in New York and New Jersey. In recent years it has put its surrogacy and adoption packages on a par with its maternity packages.

    In January, Credit Suisse will roll out a new programme allowing employees travelling on business trips with infants to have a nanny accompany them. The bank will pay the nanny’s travel and subsistence costs.

    Changes to Credit Suisse’s parental leave policy were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

    Additional reporting by James Shotter in Frankfurt