A few companies in Australia and Europe embraced paid time off designated for employees who need time to affirm their gender identity. Even though it’s still not common, global employers should be aware of the trend.
Gender affirmation or transition refers to a process that a trans person takes to feel more socially or physically aligned with the gender they have identified, ranging from medical surgery, hormone replacement therapy, mental health counselling services, to social support and administrative procedures.
Businesses are taking different approaches to implement the leave. Some companies highlighted the overall benefits for the group of trans population, while other companies chose to focus on various employees going through a range of health-related events, including gender transition procedures. The period of leave ranges from 10 days to 4 weeks.
One of the reasons that more Australian companies are adopting such a policy is because Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), which most large Australian companies actively participate in, includes a specific reference to additional leave provisions for gender affirmation surgery. Companies need to have specific leave provisions to achieve maximum marks in this category. The index is influential on attracting and retaining talents in Australia. Even though other countries might not have similarly impactful benchmark index, the need for such a leave policy can be driven by other factors, such as changing social expectations, legislative changes or new employee concerns.
Outlook: For multinational companies, it would be challenging to take any global approach as societies, legislations and cultures vary drastically on this particular issue. However, companies can definitely consider adopting such a leave policy locally if it fits the changing employee expectations. Alternatively, global organizations can also think about a statement to supply trans group globally to ensure protecting trans employees from discrimination and harassment, in addition to an in-place health policy that doesn’t exclude gender transition medical events.