Many companies are becoming more flexible and inclusive to all identities to increase staff retention and increase the value proposition they offer employees. New leave provisions are a way Ikea Australia is enacting more inclusive terminology and definitions within its enterprise agreements. Earlier this year Coles mandated similar provisions to include 10 paid gender affirmation leave days to its enterprise agreements. Across other industries ANZ Bank introduced six weeks paid and up to 12 mon
to 12 months unpaid gender affirmation leave in June 2023. Building retail careers Long-term employment and career advancement has been a priority for Ikea Australia when creating company policy. Excluding industry standard junior wage rates and casually contracted employment is part of the company’s strategy to achieve this and attract a broad age range of employees at different life stages, to make retail a less transient employment option. Exclusion of casuals within a retailer like Ikea is a unique approach to attract what most businesses in the retail industry lack, a diverse and long-tenured workforce. As part of Ingka Holdings, Ikea Australia is the first region within the company to have a standard five weeks of paid annual leave for all employees, a global goal of Ikea.In addition, fixed rostering options, designed to allow co-workers flexibility and balance to commitments outside of working, were included, and for the first time provisions will be enacted through a staggered rollout. Ikea Australia co-worker experience manager, Greg Day told Inside Retail that it was important to have something for everyone and “staying on top of flexibility and recognition of different family structures to make sure everybody is welcomed and feels supported at Ikea.” “Globally Ikea is seeking to have five weeks’ leave for co-workers in each country and we are really proud to have introduced it first in this agreement,” Day said. Broader definitions of family to include ‘found family’ have been amended in the provisions to support LGBTQIA+ staff. “We’ve had a pretty specific definition of immediate family in the past and this is a change we’ve made to support our co-workers,” Day said. Leave and financial incentives All paid leave types covered in the entity agreement were enacted in September and cover grandparent, fertility treatment, gender affirmation, natural disaster and Indigenous cultural one ceremonial leave. Fixed rosters, an optional four-day work week and a four-hour shift rest break will become operational in March 2024. The base rate of pay for an Ikea employee in the retail sector is six per cent above the minimum standard, with the full 5.75 per cent award rate wage increase being passed on to employees. For the first time in an enterprise agreement, Ikea Australia fixed wage increases to align with industry standards. Day told Inside Retail as a spokesperson for Ikea Australia that, “we’re really proud of this agreement and the wage offer that we’ve got in the retail sector and across others.” A policy that has been in place for many years is that Ikeahas no pay disparity based on age. “We don’t have junior rates in this agreement, one rate of pay for everybody is a point difference from other retailers for sure,” Day said. “Where we see the opportunity to improve things for our co-workers we can do those in between enterprise agreement negotiations, we’d be open to do so and have in the past,” Day said. Paid parental leave regardless of tenure and paid superannuation on unpaid parental leave has also come into effect with the new provisions. Josh Cullinan, secretary at Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) told Inside Retail “we proudly did see movement entirely through our intervention in bargaining.” “Ikea agreed to structurally move from a ‘casualised’ workforce which saw workers being rostered into an availability which had to be 50 per cent wider than actual hours worked. Ikea agreed with RAFFWU to move anyone who wished to set hours of work. Ikea will still not use casual work and this will apply to all part-time and full-time workers.” “Ikea also agreed to include ‘Found Family’ as part of immediate family so that queer workers can access paid carers and compassionate leave in the same way as others might access for a relative under the outdated systems of ‘immediate family’,” said Cullinan. Still, Cullinan sees room for improvement and said the union looks forward to building towards the next agreement.