1. Basic understanding of corporate social responsibility
Compliance with laws and regulations
Our companies comply with the laws and regulations of the countries in which they conduct their business activities. They ensure compliance with the principles of this Code of Conduct, especially when operating in countries with a weak state structure, and encourage their business partners to do the same. If national regulations contradict the contents of this Code of Conduct, or if the domestic situation makes it impossible for our companies to fully fulfil their responsibility to safeguard human rights, they should still find ways to respect the principles of internationally recognised human rights and the contents of this Code of Conduct.
Contribution to society
Our companies consider themselves part of the societies in which they conduct their business. Our business activities contribute to the well-being, promotion and sustainable development of those societies. Our companies consider the direct and indirect impact of their business activities on society and the environment, striving for an appropriate balance between economic, social and environmental interests. We accept and respect the different legal, social, cultural and social backgrounds of the countries incorporated in our value chain, and we recognise their structures, customs and traditions. If such aspects conflict with the principles set forth in this Code of Conduct, our companies will interact with their business partners to establish understanding and acceptance.
Ethical business and integrity
Our companies conduct legal business practices in accordance with the principles of fair competition, in compliance with antitrust and competition regulations, and in consideration of third-party industrial property rights. We reject all forms of corruption and bribery, and we appropriately promote the principles of responsible corporate management, such as transparency, accountability, responsibility, openness and integrity. Our business partners must be treated fairly. Contracts must be adhered to, unless there is a fundamental change in their general conditions. General ethical values and principles must be respected, especially the principle of human dignity and internationally recognised human rights.
Fair competition and advertising
Our contractual partners respect the principles of fair competition and comply with the laws intended to protect and promote competition, as well as fair advertising standards. We must have adequate means at our disposal to protect customer information.
Protection of business secrets
Our contractual partners oblige their employees to protect business secrets. Confidential information must not be published, disclosed to third parties or otherwise made available without authorisation.
Our contractual partners should undertake to meet the reasonable expectations of their business partners, including suppliers, customers, consumers and employees, for the protection of private information. Our contractual partners must comply with the applicable data protection laws and official requirements whenever personal information is collected, stored, processed, transmitted or disclosed.
2. Respect for human rights
While the protection of human rights is incumbent upon the states in which we do business, our companies should offer assistance in enforcing human rights in their respective territories. Our companies should avoid partaking in activities that might encroach on other people’s human rights and counteract any adverse implications for people’s human rights within their own sphere of control.
Depending on the size of the company, the risk of serious human rights implications and the type and context of the business activities, our companies should exercise due diligence to shoulder their responsibility for the protection of human rights. Their due diligence procedures should include the identification, prevention, mitigation and, if applicable, redress of potential adverse implications for human rights, and they should cover adverse human rights implications which are caused by our companies themselves, to which they contribute or which are directly connected to their business activities, products or services as a result of their business relationships.
3. Labour rights and working conditions
Our companies respect the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation to create a safe and decent working environment.
Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining
Our companies respect the right of employers and employees to establish organisations for the promotion and protection of their interests – at their own discretion and without prior approval – and to join such organisations and freely elect their representatives. Our companies respect the right of employers and employees to engage in collective bargaining for their wages and working conditions. Employees must not be subjected to work-related discrimination because of their membership in professional organisations.
In countries where the principles of collective bargaining and the right and freedom of association are not observed, or in countries where the exercise of such rights is limited or prohibited, our companies should allow their employees to freely elect their own representatives with whom to discuss workplace issues. Our companies should respect their employees’ right to raise complaints without being subjected to any form of discrimination; any such complaints should be handled in an appropriate manner.
Prohibition of forced labour
Our companies do not tolerate any form of economic activity based on forced or compulsory labour, debt bondage or serfdom. This includes any kind of work or service that is demanded of someone under threat of punishment and is not undertaken voluntarily.
Prohibition of child labour and protection of young workers
Our companies are committed to the effective elimination of child labour. They observe the legal minimum age for employment or work in each country; according to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation, workers must not be young enough to be in compulsory education or under the age of 15 years.
Appropriate mechanisms should be implemented during the recruitment process to assess the age of candidates and prevent child labour. If our companies detect child labour, they should initiate the necessary measures to rectify the issue and reintegrate the under-aged worker in society, prioritising the protection and well-being of the child.
Our companies only ever employee young people from the age of 16 if the nature or circumstances of their work do not pose any risk to their life, health or morality, and provided they are adequately and specifically instructed or professionally trained in the relevant industry.
Prohibition of discrimination in employment and occupation
We will not tolerate any form of discrimination, exclusion or preferential treatment on the basis of ethnic origin, skin colour, gender, religion, political opinions, nationality or social background that prevent or interfere with equal opportunities and treatment in employment or occupation. Furthermore, we believe in the principle of equal pay for male and female workers who complete work of equal value.
Unless shorter maximum working hours are stipulated in applicable national laws or collective agreements, regular working hours should not exceed 48 hours a week plus a maximum of 12 hours of overtime a week. Overtime should only be arranged in exceptional cases and remunerated at least according to the respective statutory regulations or collective agreements.
Our companies grant their employees the right to take breaks on each working day and observe the relevant public holidays. A day off must be granted after six consecutive working days.
The minimum wages stipulated by state legislation or collective agreements must always be met. In countries without collective or statutory wage frameworks, our companies are aware of the fact that wages for regular full-time work should always allow employees to cover their basic needs. They also know that companies cannot always ensure the dignified livelihoods of their employees on their own, but that supplementary state benefits and other social welfare measures may also be necessary. We do not withhold wages; they are paid regularly in a form that is suitable for each employee. Our wages may only be docked to the extent permitted by the statutory regulations or collective agreements, and any such deductions must be indicated. Our employees are regularly informed about the composition of their wages.
Our companies must comply with the rules laid down in national labour law. Our employees should be given clear and understandable information about their basic working conditions, including their working hours, remuneration, and payroll and payment arrangements. Our companies respect their employees’ right to terminate their employment relationship in accordance with the relevant notice periods. Our companies also endeavour to promote professional qualification opportunities for their employees.
Humane treatment of workers
Our companies treat their employees with dignity and respect. We will not tolerate any form of degrading treatment, abuse, harassment or intimation, nor do we impose unlawful punishments against our employees. Disciplinary measures are documented in a written form that each employee can comprehend.
4. Health and safety
Our companies should take appropriate measures in accordance with national requirements to ensure occupational health and safety, thus preventing accidents at work and safeguarding the health and safety of their employees. We observe the applicable local regulations for occupational safety, health and safety at work, building safety and fire safety to minimise the risk of accidents and occupational diseases. Our employees are provided with adequate personal protective equipment whenever necessary and appropriate. Our workers have the right to immediately leave their workplace without permission in the event of immediate danger. A special degree of protection should be granted to people in need, such as adolescent workers, young mothers, pregnant women and people with disabilities.
Potential emergency situations and incidents must be identified and evaluated. Their impact can be minimised through the introduction of contingency plans and reporting procedures, such as emergency alerts and calls, the notification and evacuation of workers, training and emergency exercises for workers, suitable fire alarms and extinguishers, and appropriate escape routes and rescue plans.
Occupational accidents and diseases
There must be procedures and systems in place to prevent, monitor, track and report accidents at work and occupational diseases. We take the following measures: encouraging workers to report such incidents; classifying and recording accidents and diseases; providing the necessary medical care; investigating incidents and initiating remedial action; and facilitating the return of workers to their workplace.
Hygiene at work
If our workers are exposed to chemical, biological or physical hazards, the substances and exposure must be identified, evaluated and monitored. Design and administrative measures must be taken to control overloads. If a hazard cannot be appropriately mitigated by taking such measures, our workers’ health and safety must be ensured through the use of suitable personal protective equipment.
Physically demanding work
If our employees have to perform physically demanding work, including the manual handling of materials, heavy or constant lifting, long shifts on their feet and repetitive or straining assembly work, such activities must be identified, evaluated and monitored.
Production facilities and other machines must be checked for safety risks. Any machines that may pose a risk of injury to our workers must be fitted with physical protective features, interlocks and bolting devices, and they must be properly maintained.
Sanitary facilities, food and accommodation
Our workers must have constant access to hygienic toilets and washing rooms, clean drinking water and facilities for the hygienic preparation, storage and consumption of meals. Any accommodation provided by our contractual partners or an employment agency must be well-kept, clean and safe. There must be appropriate emergency exits, hot water for baths and showers, and suitable heating and air conditioning systems. Every employee housed in the building must have enough personal space and reasonable authorisation to enter and exit the premises.
5. Environmental protection
Our companies comply with the applicable laws, regulations and administrative practices for the protection of people and the environment in the countries in which they operate. They should generally conduct their business in a way that contributes to the general goal of sustainable development. They should set up a system tailored to their company, allowing them to review their operational activities in search of harmful environmental impacts and take all the necessary and appropriate measures to reduce pollution for people and the environment, prevent environmental damage and rectify any issues as far as possible in accordance with regional laws and regulations.
Our companies are constantly striving to improve their environmental performance in the long term by promoting the introduction of suitable technologies and production processes to enable the efficient use of natural resources and energy while minimising emissions. We strive to evaluate our chemicals, replace particularly polluting substances and consider environmental concerns, occupational safety issues and consumer protection matters when selecting chemicals. We ensure the proper disposal of waste and try to reuse and recycle substances within a circular economy, provided this is possible in our local operational areas.
6. Consumer interests
Our companies take appropriate measures to ensure the quality of their products. We make sure our products comply with all the statutory regulations for the health and safety of consumers, and we ensure that our products are harmless and safe for their intended use. Our companies also consider consumer interests in their information and sales campaigns by using fair business, marketing and advertising practices and promoting consumer education.
7. Animal welfare and wildlife conservation
Our companies observe animal welfare principles in their business activities. All animals must be kept and used in an appropriate manner for the respective species. Our companies endorse the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and organise their business activities accordingly.
Our companies share the contents of this Code of Conduct with their employees, contractual partners and relevant third parties. It should be evident to our contractual partners that compliance with this Code of Conduct is fundamentally guaranteed. For legal reasons, however, we will not share any trade or business secrets, competition-related information or any other information worthy of protection.
9. Implementation and enforcement
Our companies observe this Code of Conduct within their own operations. They also encourage their business partners to apply the Code of Conduct accordingly. Our companies help their business partners to shape their supply chain in such a way that ensures respect for human and labour rights and the continuous improvement of working conditions.
The principles of responsible corporate governance indicated in this Code of Conduct are anchored in the strategic and operational management systems used by our companies.