Building Benchmark Maternity Packages: Zoe Paskin of Paskin Group
This is a fabulous example of our Countertalk community creating positive change from the ground up.
Following our shout-out for examples of great maternity policies in the maternity industry, we received an eye-opening total of… nothing. Instead, we received multiple anecdotes of negative behaviour and, crucially, extremely thoughtful and realistic examples of what employees would really like to experience.
We built that invaluable feedback into an article (read here), to provide a resource for employers to check against their own policies. And as a result of this, a handful of employers came to us saying that they had used this information to inform change within their own organisations.
The Paskin Group was one of those employers – encompassing The Palomar, The Barbary, Evelyn’s Table, The Blue Posts and The Mulwray. We spoke to co-founder Zoe Paskin to find out more.
“There’s no perfect textbook for running a restaurant, or dealing with customers, or managing people. All we can do is start out with who we are, what our values are, and how we communicate. Hopefully that’s a growing process”.
The recent consolidation of Zoë and Layo Paskin’s growing cluster of establishments under the Paskin Group name is a public declaration that their personal values run through their company. It was as part of this change that they recently implemented an enhanced parental leave package, taking into account feedback from the Countertalk community.
An emphasis on family is too often used as an excuse for damaging behaviour, “a boundarilessness” says Zoë, something that she is keen to avoid: “You’re managing something with people at both ends, and that means you have to keep questioning – what could I have done better? What did I learn? What did I do well? And keeping those lines of communication open right the way through. Recognising when boundaries or processes aren’t perfect is a good way of concentrating on how to be better at what you’re doing”. That consolidation was a moment of cultural assessment, an opportunity to ensure their values were asserted and felt at every level.
Zoë notes that they have always supported their team members’ progression on a case-by-case basis, funding educational programs and qualifications, or granting parental leave “But they weren’t all wrapped up in a neat bow”. Their newly enhanced parental leave package is part of a wholesale review of the benefits offered to their staff. Presenting these opportunities officially and contractually is part of a culture realignment that is both necessary for any growing group and vital for all of us working out how to exist in an industry which has changed so much in the last few years.
“We are all trying to accelerate out of the pause imposed by the pandemic. Previous structures need to be reassessed. It’s like moving to a new home – you can’t live in it in the same way as the last one. We’re working out how to live in our new homes”.
This sense of the industry as a ‘home’ encapsulates those blurred lines between work and life and how, for many of us, that can actually be felt as a positive. The friends we make, the friends we bring to our place of work, the hours we spend in other people’s restaurants, the hours we spend in our own restaurant outside of work hours. This is something that the industry celebrates and encourages, and is for many the reason they stay and progress in a job they never saw as a career. Zoë remembers “I didn’t plan to be in hospitality. But I liked the fact that it wasn’t Monday to Friday, that I could go to the lido for a picnic on a Wednesday. I liked staying until close and meeting people”. But people’s lives change and, as an industry which celebrates that work-life integration, we have to commit to celebrating and supporting that change too. Parenthood is one of the most significant changes that you can undergo.
“I came back from my own maternity leave after the pandemic, and we naturally realised that we had to consolidate what we did in that respect – we wanted people to feel that this was a safe space to take their life decisions, to carry on with their lives”. Those decisions are different for each person – whether they want to take a few months off, or a year. Zoë knows the importance of structuring the support that they are offered to accommodate each person’s needs – not just thinking creatively about pay and leave, but also a thoughtful approach to what happens afterwards. What will encourage the return to work?
The flexibility that Zoë and so many others enjoy in our industry means that we could be uniquely positioned to provide positive and manageable workplaces for returning parents: “There could be someone who can do five days a week of amazing daytime prep, which would fit in really well with their family life. Or just a few evenings a week, to allow them to coordinate with childcare. We all need to listen and hear, and think about what people need, and we need to do it all together.”
That flexibility and thoughtful approach has huge mutual benefits too. Zoë recounts with happiness: “what gives me most pleasure is people having a long term relationship with us. Staying with us for different chapters of their lives. I don’t want people thinking ‘I’m here for now’. I want people to have staying power. Right now we’re all programmed with that ‘swipe left’ mentality – just move on to the next thing. But we have an opportunity to change that. If you can enhance the relationship with your employee, then we’re all going to have a better experience working together”.
Paskin Group’s Enhanced Maternity Pay
PASKIN offers Enhanced Maternity Pay (EMP) which exceeds the statutory pay provision by providing:
- • 100% of average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks.
- • 90% of average weekly earnings (before tax) for weeks 7 to 12.
- • 60% of average weekly earnings (before tax) for weeks 13 to 24.
- • SMP (Statutory Maternity Pay) only from week 25 on.
*Note – EMP is inclusive of SMP such that no employee may receive more than full pay.
To qualify for EMP you must have been an employee for at least the 12 months prior to your ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
To retain EMP received under this maternity policy it is required that you continue to remain an employee of the company for the 12 months following your return to work. If your employment ends earlier, then you are required to repay the following amounts of EMP (less any included SMP):
- • 100% for the first 3 months.
- • 75% for months 4 to 6.
- • 50% for months 7 to 9.
- • 25% for months 10 to 12.
The below job role is just one of the parent-friendly career options which Paskin Group offer – you can apply here.