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Herbert Smith Freehills has announced a new Australian initiative to give its people greater flexibility around taking public holidays.

The firm’s new ‘Public Holiday Swap’ policy, which comes into effect on 1 October 2021, will give all permanent employees and maximum-term contractors in Australia the option to work on a public holiday and then take a different day as leave. People can swap their public holidays for any other day in the same calendar year.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ Head of Diversity and Inclusion Danielle Kelly explained: “Our new Public Holiday Swap policy will give our people greater flexibility to choose when they work, in a way that recognises the great diversity that exists across the firm.

“We understand that our people have different religious and cultural practices, as well as different political beliefs. Unlike some other organisations which require their people to provide evidence of a specific religious or cultural practice in order to swap a public holiday, our new policy provides greater flexibility by allowing our people to apply to their supervisor to swap a public holiday for another day without the need to specify the reason. As with any other initiative, good communication in teams and with supervisors is key to the smooth operation of the policy.”

The firm’s Australian HR Director Alissa Anderson added: “This new initiative will complement and strengthen our existing flexible work practices as well as drive greater inclusion across the workplace. As a firm, we believe that empowering our people with more flexibility to make choices about how they work helps them to deliver great results for our clients and our business.”

Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are exempted from the initiative as the firm’s operations close over the Christmas/New Year period.

The firm’s new policy is being trialled for one year and may be extended if the initiative is successful.  

Key contacts

Danielle Kelly photo

Danielle Kelly

Director of Culture & Inclusion, Sydney

Danielle Kelly