A Win-Win for Taking Time Off Work

Maybank Singapore

A year’s worth of maternity leave – it may come to you as a surprise, but it is not new at Maybank Singapore.

Under Maybank’s enhanced parenthood leave that took effect in July 2017, mothers can apply for an additional two months of maternity leave with half-pay and a further six months with no pay. This is on top of the existing 16 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave.

Inbound Operations Manager Teoh Pei Sze, 36, is one of the employees who benefited from it. She just returned to work last week after extending her maternity leave by two months.

She said: “With the opportunity, I was able to see the important milestones of my baby. For example, I saw my baby flip over for the first time just few weeks before I came back to work. That was a very important moment. I was very happy with this benefit given to me. It also helps me with the adjustment physically and mentally. Because I had caesarean section, it takes slightly longer to recover.”

The Pay Off

Along with the enhancement to the maternity leave, Maybank had also extended parental and childcare leave to all parents regardless of the nationality of their child.

Employees can also apply for no-pay sabbatical leave for two to 24 months.

According to Head of Human Capital Wong Keng Fye, these are all part of the company’s efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workforce.

“They are already well-trained, they know the organisation’s values and culture, and they have a wealth of institutional knowledge and network within the organisation. By virtue of the fact that they went on sabbatical, they are also more recharged and energetic. It’s a win-win,” explained Mr Wong.

Maybank Singapore’s attrition rate has consistently been below national and industry benchmarks.

Half of Maybank’s 1,800-strong workforce have been with the organisation for at least five years. Pei Sze, for instance, has been with the company for 13 years.

“We are happy that company is progressive in terms of HR practices, and understands the needs of the different employees at the different stages of their lives. Apart from the enhanced maternity leave, the company also took in the suggestion by the Singapore Bank Employees’ Union and Singapore Bank Officers’ Association (SBOA) to enhance the compassionate leave of our Muslim colleagues from one to three days,” said Christine Lee, chairman of SBOA’s Maybank branch.

Tips for Employers

While having such progressive human resource practices has its challenges, Mr Wong has these tips for employers to make things work.

People don’t go on six-months maternity leave just suddenly. You know beforehand. You have to make sure you plan your resources accordingly.

Within Maybank itself, our employee engagement is also very high. Many of them try to cover one another without the need to bring in additional or temporary resources. It’s the question of appreciating each other and understanding that each of us has our work, family and national commitments.

Make sure that people are properly trained, not just for their job but for their colleagues’. So when there is a need to distribute one person’s work to five people, that can be done. If you have a bigger pool of people, everybody just has to push themselves a bit more.

Whatever changes that took place on the technology, product, process and system fronts, they will have to go through the on-the-job training to get up to speed, but it’s not like they are starting from a zero base. They still have 90 per cent of the skills and knowledge. It’s just a refresher.

Maybank regularly conducts management walkabouts to gather feedback from the ground. Moving forward, they are looking to implement some of the suggestions by the staff such as having shuttle buses to nearby malls during lunchtime and more food vending machines at the canteen.