On the evening of 22 February, Belgian chemicals company Solvay signed an agreement with the Solvay Global Forum for social dialogue that sets a minimum social coverage standard through its ‘Solvay Cares’ initiative, and which applies to all its employees in the 55 countries where it operates. Solvay’s initiative corresponds with others implemented by companies including Orange, L’Oréal, Danone, Axa, Vodafone, and Kering, which have developed group level policies that aim to both offer employees illness and death protection cover as well as parental rights. 

In contrast with other companies, Solvay opted for a transnational negotiation approach to put the minimum social protection standards in place. The agreement with the Solvay Global Forum – the forum for social dialogue which brings together the secretary of the European Works Council and representatives from the US, China, Brazil and South Korea– ensures a minimum level of social protection for staff, on both permanent and temporary contracts, who have spent at least six months working for the company. Employees will benefit from:

– a minimum coverage of 75% of medical fees, in the case of hospitalization and/or severe illness,

– a company commitment, to find a suitable role for an employee in the event of partial disability and in the case of total and permanent disability, regardless of the cause, a lump sum will be paid that is equivalent to the employee’s annual basic salary. Alternatively, if national legislation requires, this sum can be paid as an annuity until retirement,

– full income protection during parental leave with 14 weeks for the mother and one week for the co-parent,

– in the case of adoption, one week of leave with 100% pay for the co-parent.

– life insurance with coverage for the family or partner, whereby beneficiaries receive the equivalent of one year’s salary. If one or more people are financially dependent on the deceased employee, this entitlement is increased to two years’ salary.

The agreement supplements existing coverage in each country and will be implemented in all branches worldwide by 31 March 2019.