EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Case Study: Care-related supports – Bank Pekao, Poland


Organisation Size: 
Large (250+)
Private sector
Initiative Types: 
Care-related supportsawareness raising

Company / organisation name

Bank Pekao

Initiative name

‘Let’s help each other – donate 1% of your tax’ (Pomagajmy sobie – przeznacz 1% podatku)

About the company / organisation

Bank Pekao SA has been operating for 80 years. It is one of the biggest banks in Central Europe and the biggest bank in Poland in terms of market capitalisation. It serves over five million clients. The headquarters of the bank are located in Warsaw, with branches all over Poland, from major cities to minor towns. Since 1999, Bank Pekao SA has belonged to the Italian financial group UniCredit.

The initiative

The initiative entitled ‘Let’s help each other’ (Pomagajmy sobie) makes innovative use of a provision in Polish tax regulations. This allows taxpayers to donate 1% of their income tax bill to charitable institutions (organizacja pożytku publicznego, OPP), without increasing the overall size of their tax bill. In their tax declarations, employees can specify the purpose of their donation and the organisation to receive it. Bank Pekao SA operates a scheme that allows employees to donate their 1% to employees who are either chronically ill themselves or whose children have a long-term illness. The initiative is local and specific to the Polish context; it is only applicable in Bank Pekao SA and not in other parts of the UniCredit group.

Every year, during the tax settlement period (January to April), the company runs an informational and promotional campaign to increase awareness among employees about recommended beneficiaries of the donation. By showing examples of difficult situations affecting certain co-workers, employees are encouraged to give aid and to increase a feeling of belonging within the work community. The campaign presents opportunities to donate the 1% of income tax to OPPs that directly support certain categories of employees who are in need. Outside of the tax settlement period, the initiative is maintained as an opportunity for employees to make additional donations to those in need of help.

Promotional activities for collecting donations are summarised below.

On the bank’s intranet, some pages were specifically dedicated and prepared for the purpose of the project. These pages include an up-to-date list of individuals in need of help, presentations of the action’s beneficiaries, histories of disease, pictures. It also includes information about the purpose of collecting the money, as well as detailed facts about the OPPs by which the person in question is to be supported. In addition, it includes some user-friendly manuals for the potential donors and examples of correctly filled-in tax forms.

The employees’ discussion forum (also on the company intranet) features an active thread on the ‘Pomagajmy sobie’ initiative, which continues to grow. At present, this forum is not limited to those categories described above, but is available to all those in need of help or support in various areas of professional and private life. The thread is being moderated on an ongoing basis by staff from the HR department.

The initiative is presented periodically in several of the bank’s publications, including newsletters from the individual business units. Moreover, information is circulated by email, in order to both inform and remind employees about the initiative.

The initiative represents an alternative source of funding for supporting chronically ill persons, namely employees of the bank whose children have a long-standing illness and who are under the patronage of an OPP. The initiative covers employees at all levels of the organisation’s structure. It also covers all age groups, and is available to both men and women.

The carers (parents) apply directly to the social affairs office or the internal communication office, which are jointly responsible for the project. The social affairs office verifies that an individual who applied either for themselves or on behalf of a child is an actual employee of the bank. Next, the applicant is asked to provide a copy of their agreement with an OPP, as well as some information for their profile on a dedicated page of the bank’s intranet. Any employee who wishes to donate 1% of their tax or to make another donation has the opportunity to choose any of individuals listed on the bank’s intranet as their beneficiary.

The initiative has run for four years already and it continues to grow, as more potential beneficiaries are added. Interest among employees willing to donate keeps increasing as well.

Rationale and background of the initiative

An invitation for employees to participate in the ‘Let’s help each other’ initiative was first issued during the merger of Bank Pekao SA and Bank BPH SA in 2008. In this context, it was considered to be of strategic importance. The initiative was a response to the need to integrate employees from two banks with different organisational cultures. Its objective was, and has been ever since, to integrate the employees via a socially useful initiative. It aims to do this by increasing employees’ commitment to the organisation, and by promoting their sense of belonging in their workplace community.

While the initiative served to build up the image of a socially responsible organisation, it has also aimed to make a real difference to working carers. By collecting funds for families with chronically ill individuals, it helps those who often have no other means of paying for illness-related expenses. The initiative also aims to raise awareness and provide education regarding the OPPs and the specifics of tax settlements regarding this.

Another objective was to support the developing organisational culture, in accordance with values laid out in the ‘integrity charter’ (code of conduct) adopted by the bank. This is based on respect, reciprocity, fairness, trust, transparency, and autonomy.

The initiative also needs to be seen against the background of Bank Pekao’s human resources policy. This emphasises a commitment to addressing employee needs. The company was named best employer in Poland in 2010 and was awarded the ‘Top Employer’ certificate by the international CRF Institute.

The ‘Let’s help each other’ initiative is not the only support measure of relevance to working carers in the company. The initiative’s coordinators are seeking other sources of funding to improve the bank’s capacity to support employees in need. For example, in 2010 co-funding was obtained from the Dr Marian Kanton Foundation. This meant that the amount to be paid out per beneficiary could be increased by 2000 zlotys. At time of writing, plans were being developed to enter into a long-term collaboration with this foundation.

The bank’s Employee Social Benefit Fund was developed on the basis of the applicable Polish laws. It is also relevant that its rules and regulations allow for the application of a non-repayable, one-time financial benefit, if such aid is needed. Eligible costs include those incurred from a long-term illness, or from adapting one’s home to the needs of members of the household who have a disability.

Funding can be made to a current employee, as well as a former employee who has since retired. It is also available to members of an employee’s family, for example, their spouse and children supported by the employee. The latter includes adult dependents who have been declared unable to work by an authorised institution and live in the same household with the employee.

Results and assessment

At present the initiative includes one employee and 33 children of employees from across all levels and locations of the organisation.

While no formal cost-benefit analysis has been performed, feedback from beneficiaries gives some indication of the success and effectiveness of the initiative, and to illustrate whether the support provided has been effective. Available information suggests that the initiative has led to funds being made available to employees who are suffering hardship. To date, all beneficiaries have been parents of children with a chronic illness or disability, with the exception of one ill employee. Considerable sums, in the form of donations, are being transferred both during the tax settlement period, and during the remaining months of the year. The coordinators have received reports of this income being spent for various purposes. This includes medicine, rehabilitation, stays in respite centres, equipment for supporting recovery, as well as basic necessities, which are often beyond the reach of these families.

A second indicator of success is the fact that the number of employees who apply for inclusion into the support programme has been increasing continuously. Numbers of employees who volunteer to donate 1% of their tax amount have been growing as well. Bank Pekao sees this as confirmation that the concept makes sense and that the measures taken are effective.

Another positive outcome of the initiative has been acquisition of additional funds for beneficiaries of the initiative from the Dr Marian Kanton Foundation.

Last year the project ‘Let’s help each other’ was submitted to the first edition of the INTERNALE competition in Poland. The purpose of this award was to promote excellence and to provide benchmarks on innovative internal communication practices within companies. A large number of companies, including leading financial institutions, logistics providers, mobile phone networks, broadcasting stations and food industry companies participated. Bank Pekao’s project was nominated as one of the best internal communication projects in Poland.

This initiative promotes an image of the bank as a socially responsible organisation and thus improves its reputation. The company believes that the initiative has therefore had a tangible impact on the accomplishment of the mission of Bank Pekao SA and the whole UniCredit capital group. Its mission statement is as follows:

We, Bank Pekao and UniCredit employees, are committed to generating value for our customers. As a leading bank in Poland, we are dedicated to the development of the communities in which we live, and to being a great place to work. We aim for excellence and we consistently strive to be easy to deal with. These commitments allow us to create sustainable value for all shareholders.

Issues, challenges and lessons learned

One outcome of this initiative is that some information on certain employees and their family problems is made available to the public. This brings up issues of data privacy. The coordinators are obliged to be as discreet as possible when disclosing any personal information about the applicants. In each case, the employee is asked for their agreement regarding the publication of certain information; examples include a quotation from an interview, or a picture or a work of art produced by the child (which applicants can decide to submit). In most cases the full name of the child in need of aid is disclosed; this is in order for the OPP to be able to forward the funds to a specific person. In each case the parents are made aware that it is their choice as to whether or not this information is made available, but that they need to do so in order to receive funds through the initiative.

This initiative shows potential within the context of work–life balance programmes, as it helps to promote a positive image of an organisation, in terms of corporate social responsibility. It can also be seen as a useful way of promoting a company or organisation as an attractive place of employment. By creating awareness of working carers, the initiative also fulfils an important educational role.

Bank Pekao plans to continue the initiative. Informational and promotional activities will be intensified each year during the tax settlement period. Furthermore, there are concrete plans for long-term collaboration with the management board of the Dr Marian Kanton Foundation.

Two aspects of ‘Let’s help each other’ make it an exceptional initiative. Firstly, there is the unique feature of employees providing support to employees, albeit through a system organised and initiated by the employer. The second issue is its scale – it covers nearly 19,000 people within Bank Pekao. The bank’s experience suggests, however, that an initiative of this type could easily be emulated by other organisations in Poland, and not just in the banking sector.


Case study authors:

Katarzyna Świeżawska-Ambroziak

Dominika Stelmachowicz-Pawyza.


Myśliwiec Katarzyna (Project Leader), Operating Director, Internal Communication Office, Bank Pekao SA, conducted on 28 February 2011.

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