Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t always go hand in hand with making money. Morning sickness, an increased urge to pee, shifting moods and odd cravings are just some of the side effects which may get in the way of an expecting mother’s everyday life.
And while some mothers choose or are expected to stay at home, not everyone has that opportunity and they still need to clock in as their belly grows and it gets impossible to pick up the pen, they just dropped on the floor.
At the Danish jewellery brand Pandora Production Thailand, they strive to make life a little easier for the pregnant ladies, whom still need to make bracelets and earrings to make ends meet.
The benefits include more and longer breaks as well as education on how to take care of yourself and your baby.
A change of clothes
New and Vi, the two pregnant Pandora-employees I am meeting, are both dressed in blue uniforms. Everyone else wears a red uniform, but the blue colour shows that the women are pregnant.
“It makes me feel special and more relaxed. The (blue) uniform is more comfortable,” New says.
“I feel more beautiful,” Vi adds.
Everyone knows what the blue uniform means, so when New and Vi meet their colleagues, it is understood that they are pregnant. The added attention is welcomed by the two employees, who find that people treat them differently in a good way.
“I was crossing the road and a colleague I didn’t know accompanied me across the street safely,” Vi says.
New is especially fond of the extra and prolonged breaks she is entitled to as a pregnant employee, but she is also fond of the attention, the blue dress gives her among her co-workers.
“Some colleagues bring me fruit, they know I like, all the time,” the 29-year-old employee says.
Vi is 32 years and is four months pregnant with her second child at the time of the interview. During her first pregnancy she was self-employed and didn’t know how to take care of herself and her unborn child.
With Pandora’s training on motherhood and responsible pregnancy, she feels more comfortable.
“It is totally different this time. Before, I took no precautions,” she elaborates.
New is pregnant for the first time. At the time of the interview, she has four months until her due date.
A full goodie bag
While there already are laws on maternity leave in Thailand, Pandora has chosen to add a few extra benefits for its mothers-to-be regardless of how many times she has given birth.
With 442 of Pandora’s 11,542 employees in its crafting facilities in Thailand being pregnant at the time of the interview, the company inevitably has to deal with a lot of pregnant employees. 90 percent of the fathers-to be also work at the factory. They are entitled to a three-day paternity leave.
According to the law, it is mandatory to allow the woman a maternity leave of 98 days with 45 days of paid salary. The state then chips in as well, albeit not to reach a total 100 percent salary. But Pandora has decided to ensure a full salary during leave and will therefore pay the employee accordingly.
Furthermore, the mandatory nurse and doctor on site will monitor the pregnant employees and provide follow ups, there is a breast-pumping room with a fridge, there is maternity training on parenthood and there are events arranged with local hospitals.
To top it off, the pregnant employees are moved to less physically demanding stations, they get more and longer breaks, and they are allowed to leave work a few minutes early, so they don’t have to queue up with everyone else when the shift is over. Finally, when the baby is born, Pandora acknowledges the special occasion with a 1,500 Baht cash gift.
The Danish mindset
Claus Rasmussen, Vice President of Human Resources and Communication at Pandora Production Thailand, explains that Pandora’s take on pregnancy reflects the Danish mindset.
“Pandora is built according to the Danish values,” Claus Rasmussen says.
As such, benefits during pregnancy are just some of the goodies, employees can look forward to during their employment time for the jewellery company. Other benefits for the entire staff include pension, insurance, social events and training on other fields of work.
“We are not here to make a Danish workplace and we respect Thai traditions, but we do not compromise on treatment of employees. Therefore, the working conditions are built on Danish values,” Claus Rasmussen says.
No more overtime
On the downside of Pandora’s responsible mindset, the pregnant ladies aren’t allowed to do overtime and night shifts. It is otherwise popular among employees to work during the late hours to boost the salary.
“Some pregnant employees want night shifts, but we take responsibility and say no for them. It’s our opinion on how to treat people,” Claus Rasmussen says.
This is not a problem for New and Vi, however.
“Pandora taught me the importance of the pregnancy. It is more important than earning money from overtime,” Vi says.
Even though she would appreciate more frequent training earlier on during the pregnancy, the two proud mothers-to-be aren’t missing anything from Pandora’s side.
Now, they are both looking forward to their maternity leave and meeting their babies after birth.