Philip Morris Poland encourages men to take parental leave

On 26 April, Poland implemented the provisions of the Work-life Balance Directive, which aims to improve families’ access to family leave and flexible working arrangements. Thanks to amendments to the Labour Code, fathers are able to take advantage of an additional nine weeks of parental leave reserved for them. Will they take it? Much depends on the attitude of employers. We talk to Ewa Sobiech, Employee Engagement and Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Philip Morris in Poland.

Ewa Sobiech, Employee Engagement and Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Philip Morris in Poland.

Ewa Sobiech, Employee Engagement and Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Philip Morris in Poland.

One of the most important changes brought by the work-life balance directive is an additional nine weeks of parental leave for fathers. The payment is 70% of the basic salary. Will fathers take advantage of this entitlement?

Based on our experience so far, yes, we expect fathers who work for Philip Morris to take advantage of this new entitlement. In September 2021, our company implemented a reimbursement of 100% of salaries for fathers who take parental leave for eight weeks. Following the amendment to the Labour Code, we have extended this period to nine weeks. We made this decision based on an analysis of our employees’ needs and knowledge about the upcoming directive, which spoke of two months of non-transferable parental leave for men.

In June 2021, we conducted a survey among our employees. The results showed a high willingness among men to take parental leave (declared by more than 80% of PMI employees). However, the loss of part of a man’s salary was cited as one of the main barriers preventing fathers from taking parental leave.

Hence the idea of a 100% salary supplement during a father’s parental leave. This is one element of a wider package of benefits for working parents at PMI called 'Happy Parents.’


Why did you choose this solution?

We introduced the reimbursement in Poland with reference to the standard that Philip Morris International has implemented globally. We decided to subsidize 100% of the father’s salary during his parental leave so that, by introducing a global solution, we would not lose sight of the overall goal of equal opportunities for women in the labor market and men in childcare. We wanted men to take parental leave because it is a viable tool to build equality and balance in the lives of both parents.

We believe that when a father takes his share of parental leave after a mother returns to work, he is both supporting his partner’s career development and giving himself the space to bond with the child. As a result, he is more involved in the life of the child and the family after the end of his parental leave, as confirmed by numerous studies and our own observations. This reduces the burden on the mother and has many benefits for the children.

We believe that this is a very important solution for promoting women’s equality in the labor market and men’s equality as parents. It is also in line with the work-life balance directive, which points to the extension of parental leave for fathers as a tool to shape equality.


What changes do you expect, or have you already noticed, following the entry into force of the WLB Directive and the amendment to the General Labor Code?

We are sure that many more men will choose to take their share of parental leave. At PMI, they will not face any financial dilemma, as our company offers the aforementioned 100% salary supplement for nine weeks of parental leave.

Importantly, once the provisions of the work-life balance directive come into force, fathers will have „their” nine weeks of parental leave, i.e. nothing will be „taken away” from the mother. This will certainly make it easier for men to decide to take up this entitlement. With this entitlement, the child can spend more time with both of parents, which in itself is of great value.


Won’t it be a problem for the organization, for managers who have to find a replacement for a man who goes on parental leave?

This is an issue we raised with our managers before we introduced the reimbursement in 2021. We spent a lot of time consulting and working together to find solutions that would support team leaders in the event of a father’s absence. I should add that PMI in Poland consists of four different companies, including a manufacturing plant and a shared services center. The specifics of the work are therefore very different.

Together with the managers, we have developed tools to help them distribute their work during fathers’ absence. As an organization, we therefore feel prepared for the changes that will result from the implementation of the work-life balance directive in Poland. This applies both to management’s full understanding and support of the issue, and to the company’s preparation in terms of processes and the way work is organized. Above all, it concerns parents, who in our company understand very well why we are doing this and how they and their children will benefit from shared leave.


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