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How to use employment policies to become more sustainable and improve staff retention


In the lead in to Earth Day on 22nd April, Ethan Jayne from our employment law team outlines some of the ways employers can use sustainable employment policies to attract and retain talent and help their people make positive changes.

Earth day is the annual celebration which takes place on 22 April which seeks to highlight environmental issues affecting our planet.

Indeed, more people are choosing to work for organisations that have a clear social purpose and have strategies in place to achieve better outcomes for people and the planet.

Research by Anthesis Group shows that employees are more likely to be attracted (and to stay with) an employer if the company shares their values on sustainability, and this is particularly important for Gen Z and Millennial age groups.

How can employers help staff become more sustainable?

There are so many ways you can use employee benefits and policies to help employees become more sustainable. Here are 5 suggestions:

Extra annual leave for sustainable holiday travel: As well as making efforts as a company to reduce your carbon footprint through more sustainable travel practices like hybrid working, remote meetings, and introducing EV charging points and so on, you can also use employee perks to encourage employees to travel more sustainably too.

This could be achieved by including new climate change policies which can be included in your staff handbook and employment contracts. One example of this could be giving staff extra days of annual leave per year should they choose to travel on holiday by public transport (bus or train). These extra days of annual leave would be taken during the annual leave period in question and not taken at any other time of the year.

Incentives for greener commuting: Research by the Office for National Statistics highlights cost as ‘one of the largest barriers people face when making changes to help tackle climate change’. To combat this, as an employer, you could help to subsidise employees’ commuting costs by introducing monthly green travel contributions or allowances.

Another way of incentivising employees to travel to work more sustainably might be a sustainable community policy where your business donates to a nominated environmental charity when employees cycle, or take the bus or train to work.

Planet friendlier uniform and workwear choices: If your employees wear a uniform, you could introduce a policy to ensure that all clothing sourced for employee uniforms is made by sustainable materials or is purchased from net-zero businesses.

Climate career breaks: You could introduce a policy to incentivise staff to opt for a climate career break over a normal sabbatical. This could involve allowing employees to request a career break after a specific length of service to undertake environmental volunteer work and therefore, encouraging employees to make a positive impact on the environment if taking a sabbatical.

Green garden leave: Finally, you could include a green garden leave clause. This would give the option to those on Garden Leave to undertake volunteering at an environmental organisation with the business’ approval. So instead of not working, the employee on garden leave could be helping the environment.

How Harrison Drury’s employment law team can help

Our employment and HR team can discuss potential climate change and sustainability matters with you to determine the best approach for your business. We can help prepare appropriate policy documents for issuing to your staff to suit your needs.

If you wish to discuss how Harrison Drury can assist you in relation to climate change policies, please contact our employment law team at 01772 258 321 or email

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