European technology firm Freepik, which specialises in producing and distributing graphic and audio-visual resources, offers all of its employees with dependent children total flexibility with their time to balance childcare responsibilities with their work.
The firm, which has 568 employees located across Spain, UK, Denmark and Colombia, reviews this on a quarterly basis to ensure the support remains relevant and useful.
Freepik’s headquarters are based in Malaga, Spain, and as a result, many of its employees are subject to legislation under Spanish jurisdiction. The law allows both mothers and fathers to take 16 weeks of paid leave after the birth of a baby, offering more flexibility around paternity leave than the UK.
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Freepik provides paid leave for Spanish employees from week 36 of a pregnancy, which is not part of the statutory maternity leave, says Marta Sisi Jimenez, head of HR at Freepik.
“If [an employee] needs to take [their] child to the doctor within the mandatory working hours of between 10am and 1.30pm, it counts as working hours if they present a doctor’s note,” she says. “Both this and the 16 weeks paid parental leave policies are designed to give maximum flexibility to our employees with families. We also offer a €100 (£88.16) monthly payment for nursery school fees for Spanish employees, aimed at alleviating the financial burden currently exacerbated by cost-of-living pressures stacked against those with families.”
It has also extended its health insurance protection for any health matter to children and spouses of Spanish employees, to acknowledge the importance of family and employee wellbeing as part of its support system. Additionally, it holds events that invite employees’ families to spend a day visiting their parents’ workplace, which is part of its Freepikfeeling culture.
As an international business with a cross-border workforce, it is important that corporate policies are respective of cultural difference, explains Jimenez.
“Freepik adapts to specific cultural needs and traditions in the countries which it operates, since in some regions our employees do not perceive corporate support for childcare as a priority,” she says. “Instead, they value more financial aid which we cater for. We are continually reviewing and refining these processes to make it as easy as possible for different teams to exercise greater autonomy over their HR policies.”
She adds that the UK could learn from Spanish childcare provision, given that current UK legislation is more restrictive for fathers. “It is important in these significant periods of leave that parents are given maximum flexibility and financial support,” Jimenez concludes.