The British American Tobacco Group is rolling out a range of new parental benefits for its 55,000 global employees.

The aim of the new benefits, which will be effective Jan. 1, 2019, is to help new parents balance their home and work lives during the first year of parenthood. It includes a minimum of 16 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave for new mother and adoptive parents, as well as a return-to-work guarantee, flexible working opportunities and an online advice service offering coaching support for all parents.

Read: Drug giant boosts parental leave with new global minimum

The new benefit will go above and beyond local requirements in 26 countries where BAT directly employs 20,000 people, according to a press release. This includes its U.S. business, Reynolds American Inc., which the BAT Group acquired in 2017, where new mothers currently receive an average of just six weeks of paid leave, in line with U.S. legislation. Some of the other countries to benefit from the new program include Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea and Pakistan. 

“Here at BAT, it’s of such great importance to us that our organization is made up of as many different types of people as possible, ensuring they are rewarded, appreciated and supported, especially at times when they need it most,” said Nicandro Durante, chief executive officer at British American Tobacco. 

“We want to ensure noone at BAT has to choose between their career and their family and that’s why this will be available to colleagues all over the world. We are proud to be offering this new range of parental benefits on a global scale and we are looking forward to seeing the changes this will hopefully make to the lives of both our current and future employees.”

Read: How will 18-month parental leave affect top-up programs?

The flexible working opportunities, which will depend on role and location, could mean one or more days off per working week, reduced working hours or the flexibility to work from home during the first year of a child’s life. 

While the online coaching service is aimed at helping new parents, it also ensures line managers are fully prepared for career discussions and equipped to support those returning to work. It also provides tips and advice to help new parents make the transition from maternity or adoption leave a little bit easier.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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