Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has announced that it will offer to cover the cost of gender reassignment surgery for its transgender employees as part of its new global transitioning guidelines. These guidelines add medical and psychological support to the firm’s medical benefits scheme in the UK. Employees will also be given time off for medical appointments and procedures. There is also support for those employees who need to be there for family members who are transitioning.

Justin D’Agostino, Global Head of Disputes & Regional Managing Partner, Asia, said: “We are a trans inclusive workplace, and these Guidelines ensure that trans employees are treated with the same respect and understanding in every office across our global network. I am proud of the commitment the firm and IRIS Network is making to our colleagues, and am grateful that we are able [to] reflect on the importance of valuing every individual as their true and whole self.

“The transgender community faces ongoing discrimination and in launching these guidelines we are acknowledging the ongoing impact of transphobia on the everyday lives of our transgender colleagues and clients and the importance of creating a global workplace that is safe and supportive.”

The guidelines include a summary of gender diversity and identity terminology to ensure that all colleagues are educated. The inclusion of transgender employees must also be acknowledged throughout the workplace. The firm received advice from several LGBT advocacy groups while putting these guidelines together. They had input from Pride in Diversity in Australia and trans*formation in the UK.

The surgery subsidy only applies to HSF staff in the UK, however, other benefits such as time off for medical appointments will be offered globally. While gender reassignment surgery is available on the NHS, it is subject to waiting lists. The cost of the surgery can be around £20,000 privately.

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