16 August 2016

GSK pays in-house lawyers to take on volunteer work

The pharmaceutical giant is offering full-salary and travel expenses for in-house lawyers who want to take time off to volunteer - even for months at a time.

By Kathryn Higgins


Launched in 2009, GlaxoSmithKline’s PULSE Volunteer Partnership offers permanent employees who have been with the company for at least three years the opportunity to take either three or six months away from their desk to volunteer full time. According to PULSE director Dr Ahsiya Posner Mencin, 635 employees have taken advantage of the program since its launch, bringing their skills and experience to 112 not-for-profit organisations worldwide working to solve global health care challenges. Not only do participants in the program continue to receive their full salary for the time they are away, but travel expenses are also covered by GSK.

Lawyers slower on uptake

The PULSE program is open to applicants in all areas of the GSK business and across all levels, providing that candidates meet the three-year minimum tenure with the company. However, applications from the GSK legal department have been comparatively low – unsurprising to those who can imagine the logistical headaches involved in absorbing the workload of an absent in-house lawyer for a six-month period. However, US-based associate general counsel Bob Harchut has praised the PULSE program for providing a platform for GSK employees to ‘give back’ while retaining talent and boosting the pharma giant’s philanthropic profile. ‘It’s been an amazing way for GSK to demonstrate how devoted we really are to our patients, and to furthering the goal of improving healthcare in the entire world,’ he said. Mr Harchut has been with GSK for 32 years and is currently on a three-month assignment with Legal Clinic for the Disabled in Philadelphia.

Sources: Corporate Counsel; PULSE

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