1. Basic understanding of socially responsible corporate management
By compliance with law and regulations
Companies comply with the laws and regulations of the countries in which they operate their business activities. They ensure that - especially in countries with weak state structures - they adhere to the principles of this Code of Conduct in their own actions and also encourage their business partners to do so. If existing national regulations conflict with the contents of the Code or the national context makes it impossible to fully respect the responsibility for respect for human rights, companies should find ways to uphold the principles of internationally recognised human rights and the contents of this Code of Conduct.
Contribution to society
Companies see themselves as part of the societies in which they operate. Through their business activities, they contribute to their well-being, promotion and sustainable development. Companies consider the direct and indirect effects of their business activities on society and the environment and strive to bring them into an appropriate balance of interests in economic, social and environmental terms. They respect and accept the different legal, social, cultural and social backgrounds of the countries into which their value chain extends, and recognise their structures, customs and traditions. Insofar as these conflict with the principles set out herein, companies will enter into dialogue with their business partners and work towards understanding and acceptance.
Ethical business and integrity
Business pursues legal business practices with respect for fair competition, third party industrial property rights and cartel and competition regulations. They reject all forms of corruption and bribery and appropriately promote principles of responsible corporate governance such as transparency, accountability, responsibility, openness and integrity. Business partners are fair in trade. Contracts must be adhered to if the general conditions do not change fundamentally. General ethical values and principles must be respected, especially those of human dignity and internationally recognised human rights.
Fairer competition and fair advertising
The contracting parties respect fair competition and abide by the laws that protect and promote competition and standards fairer advertising. Adequate means of protecting customer information must be available.
Protection of trade secrets
Contractors require their employees to protect trade secrets. Confidential content may not be disclosed, shared with third parties, or otherwise made available to others.
Contractors should commit to meeting the reasonable expectations of their business partners, including suppliers, customers, consumers and employees, in protecting private information. The parties to the contract must comply with applicable data protection laws and government regulations when personal information is collected, stored, processed, transmitted or disclosed.
2. Respect for human rights
The protection of human rights is a duty of the respective states in which companies operate in business. In support of the state's duty of enforcement of human rights on its territory, companies should respect human rights. Businesses should avoid activities intending to undermine the human rights of others and address the adverse human rights implications they involve.
To take on the responsibility for respecting human rights, companies should exercise due diligence in this area, depending on the size of the business, the risk of serious human rights implications and the nature and context of the business. Due diligence should include procedures for identifying, avoiding, mitigating and, where appropriate, redressing potential adverse human rights impacts, and should cover those adverse human rights impacts that the companies themselves cause or contribute to, or which, as a result of their business relationships, are directly connected to their business products or services are directly connected.
3. Labour rights and conditions
Companies respect the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation and create a safe and decent work environment.
Freedom of association and collective bargaining
Companies should respect the right of workers and employers, without prior authorisation and choice, to form organisations whose aim is to promote and protect the interests of employees or employers, and to join them to freely choose their representatives. Companies respect the right of workers and employers to engage in collective bargaining on pay and working conditions. Workers should not be penalised for their employment because of their membership in workers' organisations.
In countries where the principles of freedom of association, right of association and collective bargaining are not respected or where the exercise of those rights is restricted or prohibited, companies should allow their workers to be able to freely choose their own representatives to enter into a dialogue on employment issues. Businesses should respect the right of their employees to submit complaints without incurring disadvantages of any kind; These complaints should be treated in an appropriate manner..
Prohibition of forced labour
Economic activity based on forced or compulsory labour, bondage or servitude is not accepted by companies. This includes any kind of work or service that is required of a person under threat of punishment and which he has not entered into voluntarily.
Prohibition of child labour and protection of young workers
The companies are committed to the effective elimination of child labor. They shall respect the respective legal minimum age for admission to employment or work which, in accordance with the provisions of the International Labor Organization, may not be less than the age at which compulsory education ends and not less than 15 years.
In the recruitment process, appropriate age-assessment mechanisms should prevent child labour. Where companies identify child labour, they should initiate necessary remedial and social reintegration measures that focus on the well-being and protection of the child.
The companies employ young people from the age of 16 only if the nature or the circumstances of the work done by them does not jeopardise the life, health and morality of the young people concerned and if they are provided with adequate and specific instruction or vocational training in the country concerned.
Prohibition of discrimination in employment and occupation
Any form of discrimination, exclusion or preference made on the basis of ethnic origin, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality and social background, and adversely affecting equality of opportunities or treatment in employment or occupation is not permitted. Furthermore the principle of equal pay to male and femal workers for work of equal value should be applied.
If applicable national laws or applicable collective agreements do not reduce maximum working time, regular working hours should not exceed 48 hours per week plus a maximum of 12 overtime hours per week. Overtime will be remunerated at least in accordance with the applicable statutory or tariff regulations and their arrangement should remain an exception.
Companies grant their employees the right to take rest breaks on each working day and observe the relevant statutory public holidays. After six consecutive working days, a day off is granted.
Standard or collectively applicable minimum wages must not be undercut. Companies must note that, in countries without a collective or statutory wage framework, wages for regular full-time work should be sufficient to meet the basic needs of workers. At the same time, they know that businesses cannot secure an existence that is commensurate with human dignity on their own, but that, if necessary, state supplementary benefits and other social protection measures are necessary. Wages are not withheld and are paid regularly in a form suitable for the employee. Wage deductions are only permitted in the legal or collective agreement framework and must be shown. Employees are regularly informed about the composition of their pay.
The rules of national employment law must be observed. Workers should be provided with clear information on the main working conditions, including working hours, remuneration, and payment and billing arrangements. Companies protect the right of employees to terminate their employment relationship in accordance with the applicable period of notice. Businesses also seek to promote the professional qualifications of workers.
Companies treat their employees with dignity and respect. Any form of derogatory treatment, abuse, harassment and intimidation, as well as unlawful penalties against employees will not be permitted. Disciplinary action will be recorded in writing and in a form understandable to the employee.
4. Health and safety
Companies should take appropriate measures to ensure health and safety at work, taking account of national requirements, in order to prevent accidents at work and to protect the health of their workers. Valid local health, safety and occupational health and safety and fire safety regulations are in place to minimise the risk of accidents and occupational diseases. Where necessary and appropriate, workers are provided with adequate personal protective equipment. In immediate danger situations, employees have the right and the duty to leave their work immediately and without permission. People with additional needs, such as adolescents, young mothers and pregnant women and people with disabilities should receive special protection.
Potential emergencies and events should be identified and assessed. Their impact is minimised by the introduction of contingency plans and reporting procedures. These include, but are not limited to, notification of emergencies, notification of workers and evacuation, training and emergency exercises for workers, appropriate fire detection and fire extinguishers, adequate escape routes and rescue plans.
Workplace accidents and occupational diseases
There must be procedures and systems in place to deal with preventing, supervising, tracking and reporting of work accidents and occupational diseases. These include: encouraging workers to report such incidents; classification and recording of accidents and illnesses; providing the necessary medical care; investigating incidents and initiate remedial actions; and facilitating the return of workers to their workplace.
Hygiene in the workplace
If workers are exposed to chemical, biological or physical risks, these substances and agents must be identified, evaluated and monitored. Design and administrative provisions must be made to control overloads. If such measures do not adequately mitigate the risks, the health of the workforce must be safeguarded by appropriate personal protective equipment programmes.
Physically demanding work
If workers perform physically demanding work, including manual handling of material, heavy or constant lifting, prolonged standing work, and repetitive or forceful assembly work, this work must be identified, assessed and monitored.
Production equipment and other machines must be checked for safety risks. Machinery where there is a risk of injury to workers should be provided with physical guards, interlocks and barriers and properly maintained.
Sanitary facilities, food and housing
Workers must have access at all times to clean washrooms and toilets, clean drinking water and facilities for hygienic preparation, storage and consumption of meals. Residential accommodation provided to the labour force by the contractor or employment agency must be well-maintained, clean and secure, with adequate emergency exits, hot water for bathing or showering, and adequate heating and ventilation systems, sufficient personal space for each worker and reasonable access and exit authorisation.
5. Environmental protection
The companies comply with applicable laws, regulations and administrative practices to protect the health and environment of the countries in which they operate. They should generally conduct their business in ways that contribute to the overall goal of sustainable development. For this reason, they should set up a system tailored to their business, allowing them to review their operational activities for harmful environmental effects and to take all necessary and appropriate measures to reduce human and environmental loads to avoid environmental damage and to rectify it as far as possible in accordance with existing regional laws and regulations.
Companies strive to continuously and sustainably improve their environmental performance by promoting the introduction of appropriate technologies and production processes that make efficient use of natural resources and energy, as well as minimising emissions. They strive to assess the chemicals used and try to select them for environmental and occupational safety as well as consumer protection aspects and to replace particularly polluting chemicals. The proper disposal of waste as well as the possible reuse of substances in the context of the circular economy are important, if this is possible under local conditions.
6. Consumer interests
The companies take appropriate measures to ensure the quality of the products they offer. They ensure that their products comply with all statutory health and safety regulations and are harmless and safe for their intended use. Businesses also take consumer interests into account in information and sales campaigns by applying fair business, marketing and advertising practices and promoting consumer education.
7. Protection of animals and species
The companies observe animal welfare principles in their business activities. Animal keeping and use must be species appropriate. Businesses recognise and endorse the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and manage their actions accordingly.
The companies pass on the contents of the Code of Conduct to employees, contractors and, where appropriate, to third parties. It should be understood for the contracting party that compliance with the Code of Conduct is fundamentally guaranteed. However, disclosure of trade and business secrets or any competition-related information or other information worthy of protection is excluded for legal reasons.
9. Implementation and enforcement
The companies observe the present Code of Conduct in their own actions. They encourage their business partners to apply the Code of Conduct accordingly. Companies help their business partners to shape their supply chain to respect human and labour rights and to improve working conditions.
In order to ensure good Corporate Governance the companies mentioned in the code embed the principles of responsible corporate governance in their strategic and operational management systems.