Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

In March, Volvo sent shockwaves through the industry by announcing it would be providing its more than 40,000 employees with 24 weeks – a whole six months – of paid parental leave as part of its Family Bond initiative. The new policy, which took effect in April, is applicable to employees of any gender who have completed at least one year of service at any of the company’s plants and offices.

By default, parents will be able to take leave at any time within the first three years of parenthood at 80% of their base pay. This includes all legally registered parents, including adoptive, foster care and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents in same-sex couples.

Best of all, the policy doesn’t just apply to progressive Sweden but in all countries Volvo is present in, including Malaysia. Our nation isn’t exactly known for progressive employment practices, so we spoke to Volvo Car Malaysia’s (VCM) director of people experience Rema Chetty about what the Family Bond policy would mean for its own employees, how the generous parental leave would improve the quality of life of its workforce and how it plans to encourage other Malaysian companies to follow its lead.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

Q: There are bound to be people used to the old way of employment who are going to be opposed to this new policy, saying that it would cost too much money to provide such a long period of parental leave, that it would encourage employees to slack off, etc. What is your response to those remarks?

A: At Volvo Car Malaysia, our employees are our lifeline, which is why we hold true to our legacy of being human-centric, where our strong people policy calls for us to put our employees first. Through our Family Bond initiative, we want to drive awareness towards the importance of both parents’ presence in their children’s lives by providing time for families to adapt to changing situations, yet giving them peace of mind while they embark on a new journey.

We believe that if our employees are supported to balance the demands of work and family, it allows them to also excel in their careers. One of the results we would like to see from the implementation of the Family Bond policy is parents taking the time to bond with their children and coming back to work refreshed and motivated, which increases employee retention in the long run.

Additionally, the new policy can help ease the financial and job security pressures of expectant or new parents, so that they can fully commit themselves to taking care of their family and return to work recharged. By putting our employees’ needs first, we hope to instil the trust that we have in them to utilise the parental leave benefits fully and appropriately.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

Hence, we are ready, capable and more than happy to introduce this policy as a new norm for all our employees who are ready to be a parent. To us, the Family Bond policy is more than just a new benefit for employees – it is the embodiment of the company’s culture and values. We believe that a collaborative, inclusive and diverse work environment ensures a motivated and productive workforce, which in turn builds a sustainable and progressive organisation.

Q: How have Volvo’s Malaysian employees reacted to the Family Bond policy? How about on the management side?

A: So far, in Malaysia, the feedback that we have received from both our management and employees have been positive.

Q: Malaysia isn’t known for progressive employment practices, so how does VCM plan to encourage other companies to follow its lead?

A: While Malaysia currently does not have a government-mandated paid leave policy for working fathers in the private sector, we hope that by introducing and successfully implementing a more comprehensive parental leave policy for both genders would set a benchmark for other companies in various industries, to empower them to see the benefits of equal parenthood.

Slowly, but surely, we hope to break gender biasness and encourage both parents to take equal time off and responsibility in the first crucial months of early childhood. And hopefully, more companies will join us in providing a more inclusive and supportive environment for Malaysians.

Q: As Volvo itself has said, parents are worried about taking an extended period of time away from the company because of how it might impact their team’s performance and long-term career opportunities. What measures have Volvo put in place to make sure those aspects aren’t affected, so that these parents feel more at ease about taking time off?

A: Usually, people perceive “good workers” as employees who are always available, committed to the company and willing to sacrifice for the team, as well as working long hours. Naturally, due to this perceived sentiment, some employees may be hesitant to take extended time off.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

However, at Volvo Car Malaysia, while these values are admirable, we do not believe that they define an employee’s worth. When an employee has plans to go on parental leave, we develop a concrete plan to distribute the work among the team with the guidance of the parent going on leave and bring in external resources if needed. [This will] help them understand how the tasks will be divided among other employees. By planning early, it helps give them peace of mind knowing that their team will always have their back.

We have not allowed any reasons to hinder our employees’ career growth and in fact have continuously promoted upskilling by offering regular training sessions. We want to let our employees know that we will always be there to provide the support they need for both their professional and personal goals.

Q: Contrary to popular belief, Volvo says that having a parental leave policy like this one will actually boost performance and strengthen its business. How so?

A: As I’ve briefly mentioned in the first question, having a parental leave policy that applies to both parents creates a culture that supports equal parenting for all genders. We believe if our people are supported to balance the demands of work and family, they will be happier. Eventually, it will help them to focus on work and excel in their careers, while still also enabling them to continue caring for their family.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

As an organisation, we believe that employees who benefit from our Family Bond policy can become our ambassadors to further define Volvo Cars’ commitment to being a responsible and parent-friendly employer, where employees can go on parental leaves without worrying about family support, career setbacks or any other discrimination.
At the same time, we believe that the Family Bond policy will allow us to attract more top talents from all over the world, which eventually will help us to become a more diverse and productive organisation. From there, our team will grow.

Q: Malaysia also isn’t known for gender-inclusive policies. How will providing equal parental leave for both mothers and fathers improve work-life balance, the wellbeing of their children and diversity at the workplace?

A: Our Family Bond policy aims to create a culture that supports equal parenting for both mothers and fathers and allow them to balance between work and family, which in the long run can improve their overall wellbeing at the workplace and also at home.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

For instance, if our employees can create a good division between the time spent at work and at home, we can expect better focus and productivity during working hours, and better rest during off-hours. At the end of the day, our employees would be happier and less stressed out at work because they are provided with the benefits that will help them to achieve work-life balance.

Secondly, at Volvo, we celebrate every opportunity for us to learn new skills, no matter if it is developed at work or out of work. This is why we believe that it is extremely beneficial for our male employees who have just become fathers to be involved in their child’s early development, especially for those who have older children as well. This is so that they can stay at home to bond with their newborn and help out with their older children, while giving their partners enough rest.

For our employees who have dedicated their time to us, we want to give time back to them as they embark on this new journey of parenthood, one of the most important milestones in their lives, in return – the time to bond, rest and play with their newborn. We hope to empower our employees, regardless of their gender and background, to be more committed to their family, play a part, and play it well.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

Q: Will other aspects of employment (annual leave, employee benefits, etc) also be improved?

A: Aside from the Family Bond policy, we also advocate for gender pay equalities. To walk the talk, we have been giving merits and compensations to our employees based on their experience and performance, and not their gender or background. At the same time, we make sure to eliminate all kinds of unconscious biases in the evaluation process to ensure that we provide all our employees with the same fair chances on promotion opportunities.

Moreover, given the current pandemic situation, we are providing our employees more flexible working schedule, so they can work from home at ease. Since the implementation of this initiative, many of our employees have been working from home, and they have shared that this initiative has helped increase their productivity levels whilst also making sure that they are staying safe.

As mentioned earlier, we have been promoting upskilling through various types of training, in order to keep them motivated, and helping them in achieving greater milestones.

Volvo 24-week parental leave – what it means for M’sia

What about the staff at Volvo’s dealers, including their salespeople? We understand they are not directly under the employ of Volvo, but how will the company encourage dealers to at least implement a few improvements in employee benefits? Will there be any incentives tied to this?

A: While this policy is still in its infancy stage, and its implementation is fairly new, we would like to take it one step at a time. This is because every new policy will take some time to get used to.

We will slowly encourage the dealerships to follow our footsteps in providing their employees similar benefits. There are many factors that we will have to consider, and at the same time, we are looking into ways that we can support them to make this happen.

Looking to sell your car? Sell it with Carro.

10% discount when you renew your car insurance

Compare prices between different insurer providers and use the promo code 'PAULTAN10' when you make your payment to save the most on your car insurance renewal compared to other competing services.

Car Insurance

Jonathan Lee

After trying to pursue a career in product design, Jonathan Lee decided to make the sideways jump into the world of car journalism instead. He therefore appreciates the aesthetic appeal of a car, but for him, the driving experience is still second to none.



  • Henry on May 27, 2021 at 9:53 am

    To show my support of this policy I shall endeavour to buy a Volvo as my next car.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2
  • Dredd on May 27, 2021 at 10:13 am

    in Malaysia locals wont abused this 6 months paid parental leave, it helped increase their productivity levels instead whilst also making sure that we are staying safe.

    Should implement this across every government dept. Dredd agreed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3
    • Very few, if any, companies in M’sia has this as mostly they treat their staff like slaves expecting them to work 247 for peanut salary. In such First World countries that prides in such equality, the bosses drives Volvo as well the workers also drives Volvos. If VCM does implement this policy, my next car is a Volvo.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Aaron on May 27, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Truly a company with origins from a cultured society. It is heartening to see there is still hope for companies to change their culture and make this world a better place – not everything is about profits.

    I never cared much for the Volvo interior designs…this move by the management has encouraged me to take a second look at Volvo Cars…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • apamau on May 27, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Just compare their GDP and ours in same currency then only decide. for Malaysia , even u do the china 996 working scheme, i am not sure how long we can catch up to become a developing country…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  • Semi-Value (Member) on May 27, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    in malaysia bosses also dono how to behave, how u expect their employees to?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • on May 28, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    Volvo will be my next car. 100% supporting this policy. Have been eyeing the Full Electric XC40 Recharge for my next car.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • stasta on Jun 01, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    stupid policy. are you expecting car buyers to pay extra to support this 6 months of paid leave for volvo employes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

Add a comment