Sudima Hotels will cover the cost of estate management as part of an expanded employees benefits package.
Sudima Hotels will cover the cost of estate management as part of expanded employees benefits.

New Zealand hotel operator Sudima Hotels has added Wills and Estate Management to its employee benefits packages in partnership with online wills provider, Footprint.

Aimed at “thinking bigger” when it came to employee benefits and company culture, the move sees the Footprint subscription model of Wills and Estate Administration offered to Sudima employees, which was coupled with a series of Learning Lab seminars held at the company’s hotels around New Zealand where workers were educated on financial literacy and the cost of estate management in New Zealand in the event of their death.

In New Zealand, the cost to families of administering the estate of a deceased relative can be around NZ$10,000 with a will in place and around NZ$15,000 without one. More than a year of waiting can be added without a legal will before beneficiaries can receive any funds from a deceased estate.

The hotel operator will pay between NZ$3 and NZ$6.50 per employee per month for ongoing Will management, with employees able to top up to a premium product if desired. Departing staff can also opt to take on the full per-month cost to retain management of their wills if they leave the company.

Sudima Hotel CEO, Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala with Footprint CEO, Angela Vale.

Sudima Hotels Director of Talent and Culture, Phillipa Gimmilaro, said the move took employees by surprise but it was an important issue which fit with the company’s values.

“The education piece was crucial – when we dug deeper at the Learning Labs, people came to see clearly how this benefit will help their families in the unfortunate circumstance they are no longer here, and they could take what they learned home to discuss with their loved ones.

“The value of an Estate Administration package is huge and this is not a conversation people have usually had before because death is not openly discussed in many cultures.

“It was a bit of a blind spot even for the senior team, such as the timeframe to access a bank account when a partner or spouse dies, and funds are frozen,” Gimmilaro added.

Footprint CEO, Angela Vale, said many corporations and their employees held preconceived ideas that Wills and Estate Management was too difficult, time-consuming and expensive to handle.

“In discussion with Phillipa and her team, and with other HR leaders, what we are hearing is that there is real shift towards empowering staff and providing employees with benefits that are meaningful to them and their families, which includes improving financial literacy.