True to its tradition of social protection, Solvay has unveiled a bold initiative: a minimum level of company social benefits extending to all its employees, wherever they are.
It’s no news that Solvay has always believed in providing its employees with more than just a job. Decades before the advent of the welfare state, the company was already running its own social security program.
That was in the 1880s; in 2017, Solvay is taking the next step in the same direction with Solvay Cares, a common minimum package of benefits for the 30,000 people who work for the group. The company’s CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu was very clear about the idea behind this initiative: “As a Global Corporate Citizen, Solvay is going beyond local market standards and ensuring the well-being of colleagues no matter where they are located.”
Leveling up corporate employee benefits
Specifically, Solvay Cares covers four areas: Maternity and Co-parent/Adoption leave, Medical care, Disability and Life insurance. How does that translate in terms of benefits? For each of these fields, here is what is offered as a minimum:
- Full income protection during parental leave, established at 14 weeks for the mother - following World Health Organization recommendations - and one week for the co-parent and for adoption
- At least 75% of medical fees covered in case of hospitalization or severe illnesses, topping up public social security
- Disability insurance in case of lasting incapacity, with two years of salary covered
- Life insurance with coverage of up to two years of salary for the family or partner
As one can easily imagine, all this is bound to substantially increase employee social protection in a number of countries. In the United States for example, Solvay Cares will improve the standard for maternity leave. In China and Poland, it introduces disability insurance, and in India and Russia, life insurance. As for paternity leave, it is quite simply non-existent at the moment for a good part of Solvay’s employees.
It will take an estimated two years to fully roll out the program, but maternity, co-parent and adoption leave are kicking in as soon as 1 April 2017.
Ideals that don’t fade
With this initiative, Solvay joins a small club of less than a dozen multinational corporations that have introduced global minimum benefits programs. Solvay Cares also closely follows the signature of a significant agreement with the IndustriALL Global Union in February 2017, reinforcing Solvay’s commitment to provide the same basic labor and social rights to all its employees.
Both initiatives are expressions of the company’s long-standing awareness regarding social responsibility. You can trace it in Solvay’s DNA all the way up to the humanistic ideals of its founders. Back then, one spoke of “social capitalism”; today the expression is “corporate social responsibility”. Whatever the terminology, the idea remains the same: believing that people come first.