British Council revamps international benefits package

The British Council has begun a radical revamp of its international benefits package ensuring all employees worldwide have British-based entitlements.

The body, which is the UK’s organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations abroad, began implementing generous minimum standards for 7,500 staff across 110 countries in April.

In many cases the benefits, which include holiday entitlements, medical benefits and pension arrangements, are considerably more generous than the statutory obligations of host countries.

Jane Franklin, senior equal opportunities and diversity adviser at the British Council, said that the scheme, aimed to promote equality among its multi-national workforce, would be of considerable benefit for workers in developing nations. Franklin said:"To people working in other countries, it’s brought consistency. [Statutory entitlement in host nations] can be better, but it can’t fall below [these minimum entitlements]."

Staff are afforded 35 days holiday including public holidays, a death-in-service benefit, long-term paid sick leave of up to six months and injury insurance.

And in countries where post-retirement pensions are poor, employees receive one month’s salary for each year they are employed at the Council.

Operations in Africa will offer a lump sum funeral payment to a nominated next of kin should a staff member die in service.

The British Council plans to introduce maternity leave of up to 14 weeks on full pay and two weeks paternity leave for workers with at least one year’s service. The body will also fund a minimum of five days special leave for issues such as family bereavement.