ETS launches child benefit allowance for employees

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Families and their children struggle to cope as the crisis affects their protection, food security and livelihood, among many others. At this juncture, there is an urgent need for child-sensitive social protection programmes. English Tea Shop Organic (ETS), Sri Lanka’s leading organic tea brand, sources its tea and botanicals from small-scale organic farmers in Sri Lanka. ETS has officially launched its Child Benefit Allowance Initiative for their employees in collaboration with The Centre for Child Rights and Business (The Centre) and Save the Children.  

Through this pilot initiative, ETS will provide monthly social assistance for their employees to invest in their children’s wellbeing. The Child Benefit Allowance Initiative is for all employees who have children under 16 years of age.  

Suranga Herath, CEO of English Tea Shop, said: “ETS is committed to enriching the lives of our people by doing things differently and putting purpose and wellbeing of people at the core of our strategy through several initiatives, despite the many challenges that come our way. In 2019, ETS launched a unique Employee Share Ownership Programme (ESOP), where the company granted 15% of the equity stake to employees, which was further extended to 30% in 2021, bringing it closer to its aspiration of becoming a majority employee-owned business. Some other recently introduced initiatives are the company-sponsored medical and life insurance, a comprehensive quarterly profit-sharing programme, and 100% USD-pegged salaries for all employees, among other people-centric initiatives. We are honoured to collaborate with The Centre for Child Rights and Business and Save the Children, Sri Lanka, on this impactful program.” 

The Centre provided technical guidance to develop this initiative. Ahila Thillainathan, Country Director at The Centre, said: “This is the first time a private company has taken the pioneering leap for such a monumental social assistance initiative for their employees. We believe that when ETS invests in the children of their workforce, listening especially to the voices of parents and their children, they create a family-friendly workplace. This will not only contribute towards the wellbeing of the employees/ co-owners but also increase the sense of belonging, ownership, and productivity of the company.”  

Lasantha is a parent/employee at ETS; she said: “I am grateful to be part of such a meaningful initiative that will not only help support my children financially but also provide psychological support. The valuable knowledge The Centre and Save the Children share will help my family safeguard our children’s future.”  

Save the Children has been in Sri Lanka since 1974. The child rights organisation contributes 50% of the child benefit allowance during its pilot year through its strategic partner- The Centre. 

Julian Chellappah, National Director of Save the Children in Sri Lanka said, “For the past four years, we have been envisioning a different cup of tea in Sri Lanka- looking at the wellbeing of tea workers and their children. This child social welfare program comes at a critical time in Sri Lanka, and children from the tea industry have historically been the most vulnerable. We are proud to launch this pilot initiative together with ETS and The Centre. By investing in families and their children, we invest in the future of Sri Lanka”.    

This initiative will reach 143 children (63 boys and 80 girls) below the age of 16 in the first year. ETS commits to continue this initiative as a company policy beyond the pilot collaboration. Additionally, ETS will provide its parent volunteer groups from its workforce with psychological first aid training, home-based early childhood care and development training, and a community action pack training, supported by Save the Children and The Centre.