Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Foodies serve parents double

Kiwi company My Food Bag is offering a double helping of parental leave to staff who are having kids.

All new parents and primary caregivers - including dads - will be allowed an extra 18 weeks of paid leave, on top of the 18 weeks the Government will offer from April 1.

And if staff choose to work through the extra 18 weeks, the firm - co-founded by Nadia Lim and Cecilia Robinson, who are both pregnant - will boost their salary during that time, paying them an extra 60 per cent.

"Our philosophy is about healthier, happier families at home and we do that through our food and recipes," said Lim, 30, who is due to give birth to her first child in three weeks. "It makes sense to extend that philosophy to helping families through our workplace as well.

"You get so much more out of your staff when they're healthy and happy."

My Food Bag is also giving all parents an extra six sick days a year, and has created a flexible environment for mums and dads returning to work, including the options of working shorter days and working from home.

"We've always had this approach, we just want to put it on paper," co-founder Cecilia Robinson, also 30, said.

Full time New Zealand staff become eligible after 12 months of employment and part-time team members become eligible after two years.

Four staff who have had children recently will also benefit as the scheme is backdated.

Their reaction when told about the leave was priceless, Robinson said. "They came out of the meeting room all teary and puffy faced."

My Food Bag head of recipe development Anton Leyland has three young kids, the newest 4 months old.

His wife is about to finish maternity leave, so the My Food Bag scheme came at an ideal time.

He will continue to work and take 160 per cent of his salary so his wife can remain at home with their kids.

"We've saved hard for [his wife] Isabella to stay at home until August, so not having to touch those savings now will make a massive difference to us trying to get ahead and get into the property market."

Robinson would not be pressed on how much the scheme will cost the company but said it would be worth it.

"The costs will be significant, but nothing in comparison to the reward we get from it," Robinson said.

My Food Bag's parental leave programme can be taken at any point up to the child's second birthday.

Robinson said the scheme was part of their plan to become the best workplace in Australasia - and they're looking at including their Australian staff. "It's a win-win, because it will increase [staff wellbeing] and research shows ... happiness and positivity can only increase productivity and profitability."

- Herald on Sunday

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