Human rights & labour standards
Human rights and labour standards
We support compliance with human rights and have set ourselves the goal of preventing violations of human rights in the course of our business operations. In a number of different areas where we can exercise influence, we have implemented measures which support the commitments we have made. These areas include human resources, safety and supply chain management.
The measures we take are also based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In addition, we commit to the principles of the UN Human Rights Charter, the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and other international obligations and industry standards.
Respect for human rights is taken into account in our Group guidelines. These guidelines include our Code of Ethics, purchasing guidelines and purchasing agreements, our Integrity Line policy, and Group risk management. In these standards, which apply right across the Group, we set out mandatory practices for our employees.
In 2014, the Executive Board of Linde AG adopted The Linde Group Position on Human Rights, which describes the processes which confirm our commitment, covering the following topics:
- safety and health protection
- the prevention of discrimination and harassment of employees
- equal opportunities and equal treatment
- fair pay
- compliance with regulations on working hours
- the right to privacy
- freedom of association and freedom of assembly
- the exclusion of any form of child labour or forced labour, including human trafficking
In 2017, work was carried out on a human rights guideline and on the implementation of corresponding control mechanisms and these were discussed by the Executive Board.
Implementation and monitoring
To ensure human rights are being respected, we conduct regular in-house surveys of staff responsible in all the regions, asking them to tell us about the status of the processes which have been introduced. We train our employees in the correct application of the Code of Ethics. Compliance with the standards set out in the Code of Conduct for Suppliers is a requirement included in our purchase contracts. It also forms part of the risk-based review of suppliers and of training for service providers. We involve our major stakeholders in the topic of human rights.
To detect potential weaknesses, we also evaluate the information provided to our Integrity Line. Our employees and external stakeholders can use this service to report any breaches of the Group’s commitment. In 2017, around 32 percent of the reports received by the Integrity Line related to human resources issues (2016: 30 percent). We investigate any deviations or breaches. If necessary, we take corrective action with employees. The measures taken might include training, coaching, the issuing of verbal and written warnings or dismissals, or we might terminate business relationships with suppliers. We also evaluate the findings of audits for customers at our business locations which consider human rights aspects and enter into a dialogue on the subject with our customers. In 2017, more than 60 audits were conducted at our business locations which covered social topics.
To support our work on respect for human rights, the areas we are focusing on include the protection of employees and third parties as well as the issue of equal opportunities and promoting women in the Group. As far as safety is concerned, we pay particular attention to the protection of employees working in production, as well as to employees and contractors who work for Linde on construction sites or who transport our products.