Geneva-headquartered JTI (Japan Tobacco International) has announced a global equal family leave policy for all its employees globally, by offering a minimum of 20 weeks of fully-paid leave for employees, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or whether employees become parents by giving birth or through adoption or surrogacy.

The new plan, which goes beyond national family leave guidelines in 80% of the 81 countries the company is located in, will be rolled out on January 1, 2021. In Switzerland, for example, mothers benefit from 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. But with this new policy, they will get 20 weeks of paid leave instead. "Of course, where countries offer a better policy, JTI will match it as local legislation prevails," a JTI spokesperson confirmed to Human Resources Online.

A total workforce of 44,000 globally will benefit from this new policy - of which there are 16,000 employees across JTI's operations and manufacturing facilities in Asia Pacific. Zooming in on Asia, employees in the following countries can look forward to this new benefit: Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, The Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

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In order to ensure a smooth implementation process and proper utilisation of the benefits, for a limited number of locations the policy establishes a phased approach for secondary caregivers, starting with a minimum of four weeks of paid leave.

Eddy Pirard, President and CEO of JTI, said: “Our new family leave policy is a great milestone in our diversity and gender equality journey. We are proud to introduce the new gender-neutral benefit which supports all families, giving every parent equal opportunity to spend quality time with their children, without worrying about the impact it could have on their finances or careers."

Christiane Bisanzio, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at JTI, added: “Men can still be stigmatised for taking time out of their careers. We aim to shift such perceptions in the workplace for both men and women, including their managers. With our new family leave policy, we embrace all parents as well as their choices and lifestyles."

The policy comes as part of JTI's commitment towards its progressive diversity and inclusion philosophy.

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