STAFF at a major Hampshire employer are being offered two weeks’ paid leave if they face childcare emergencies in the latest lockdown.

Insurer Zurich – which has around 600 staff at Whiteley – says the move will benefit more than one in five of its 4,500 UK employees.

They can take an extra 10 days of paid leave while primary and secondary schools are closed. The days can be taken individually or consecutively.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s head of HR, said: “With schools closed, working parents will be frantically trying to juggle their jobs and childcare responsibilities. We already offer flexibility for employees who want to change their working hours or structure some days differently. But for parents trying to balance work, childcare and home schooling, this may not be enough.

“We’re helping our employees get through this crisis by offering mums and dads paid time-off so they can look after their health and their family. This is also available for anyone with other caring commitments.”

The insurance giant has introduced several measures since last March to help staff through the pandemic, including:

  • Free antibody tests for all staff, their partners and anyone over 18 living at their house.
  • Refunding car park season tickets at its own expense until offices reopen.
  • Offering staff the option to reduce their pension salary sacrifice this year and to sell holiday leave back to the company.
  • Providing free office equipment at home, with a “wellbeing hub” including a virtual GP service for staff and families
  • Reducing childcare vouchers to £1.
  • Offering emergency loans of up to £750 per person, available within 72 hours of approval.
  • Offering access to Lifeworks, a platform providing advice and counselling, wellbeing assessments and coaching.