Labour relations

Nestlé has built a culture based on the values of trust, mutual respect and dialogue. Our management and employees work daily to develop and maintain positive individual and collective relationships. We expect them to do so, as a core part of their job. We see good labour relations as imperative to our growth. As a large global business, we operate in a wide range of countries, each with their own laws, rules and culture. It can sometimes prove challenging when developing positive labour relations. It is inevitable that some disputes will occur. We proactively seek to prevent labour disputes through open dialogue, training and local and regional initiatives. For more information on labour relations and human rights, please also see the Human rights and compliance section.

  • We treat our people fairly and with respect, providing them with good labour conditions. Our Policy on Conditions of Work and Employment sets goals and minimum requirements for work arrangements and conditions in all the countries where we operate. It has been developed in line with the ILO Core Conventions, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

    Despite our best efforts, it is difficult to ensure that all of our people work under the same conditions. The challenges we face are varied, and include local disparities in employment legislation that differs from our preferred conditions and international standards. This can include a lack of local legislation on working conditions. Our Employee Relations Policy requires strict compliance with the law, but it also guides our actions where local legislation is more lenient or if there is no applicable law.

  • Nestlé promotes the continuous improvement of our working conditions. It is our goal that no one working at Nestlé should be subject to differences in conditions as a result of their employment status. We have developed and introduced Working Conditions Action Plans with our markets. The plans support compliance with our Policy on Conditions of Work and Employment and, to date, 66% of our markets have fully implemented them. This calculation is based on 106 countries, with Nestlé in the United States counted as four separate entities (Nestlé USA, Nespresso, Nestlé Waters and Purina). By the end of 2016, we expect an implementation of more than 90%.

    While we favour permanent employees for core activities, we also use temporary employees to meet the short-term needs of the business. When we outsource work to service providers, our Policy on Conditions of Work and Employment and Supplier Code clearly set out the minimum standards relating to labour standards (such as working hours and wages) and the safety and health of employees, which we expect all of our service providers to meet.

    Limiting working time

    We monitor the working time of our employees according to local law, addressing issues as they arise. Since 2012, we are seeking to limit working time to a maximum of 60 hours a week across our operations including overtime. More than 85% of our markets have implemented the 60-hour weekly schedule (in 25 of those markets it is a legal requirement) and we use commonly occurring Group Audit findings to prioritise improvement projects and training.

    Minimum notice period

    Before making operational changes that could substantially affect our employees, we provide a period of notice outlining the proposed changes. While a minimum period and provisions for consultation and negotiation are specified in collective agreements in 28 countries, in others, it depends on local laws. On average, the period is 38 days.

    Total Rewards Policy

    As an Employer of Choice, Nestlé wishes to provide comprehensive and competitive employee rewards. Our global Total Rewards Policy outlines the employment package we provide for employees. It broadly covers:

    • Fixed pay;
    • Variable pay;
    • Employee benefits;
    • Personal growth and development; and
    • Work–life environment.

    The principles outlined in the policy provide the common framework within which individual markets can create competitive local programmes that meet business needs and comply with local legislation. The approach is designed to attract, retain and engage talented employees.

    To support our policy, line managers and HR professionals use an online Total Rewards Learning Centre when dealing with performance and rewards (including compensation and benefits). This was supplemented in 2015 by new Total Rewards training for HR business partners, enabling them to assist line managers more effectively on reward topics.

    In 2014, we launched a Total Rewards toolkit portal, designed to help local business operations ensure their rewards programme is competitive, compelling, cost effective and well understood. This on-demand solution is being reinforced in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, where countries will be required to use the toolkit as a mandatory element in developing their annual People Plans.

    Delivering a living wage

    We recognise that in some countries, the legal minimum wage levels do not fulfil the basic needs of a worker. As stated in our policies, Nestlé commits to verify periodically that our lowest level of salaries (and benefits) comply with local laws and importantly that they are competitive, allowing employees to cover their needs according to local standards of living.

    Back in 2013, we started a programme with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), to identify gaps in how the living wage is treated across our operations. It seeks to:

    • Establish and validate the living wage rates (gross per annum in local currency);
    • Identify all Nestlé regular and temporary employees (directly hired) with salaries below these rates; and
    • Establish appropriate action plans to adjust remuneration.

    The results of six pilots in 2013 demonstrated that some living wage gaps existed and we implemented corrective actions. For the wave 1 roll-out in 2014, 29 countries were covered. In 2015, we expanded the programme to 38 additional countries for the wave 2 roll-out across the countries where Nestlé operates. By the end of 2015, the company's living wage analysis had been completed in a total of 73 countries (between the launch of the programme in 2013, and the wave 2 roll out in 2015). The five countries where some employees have been identified with remuneration below the established living wage rates during the 2015 roll-out exercise will have the employees’ remuneration adjusted by 1 April 2016. The roll-out will be completed in all countries where we operate by the end of 2016.

  • We support the freedom of association of our employees and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. We operate in some countries where these rights are not upheld. Despite the inherent difficulties and the limits of local laws, Nestlé respects, at all times and in all places, the right of employees to meaningful and constructive dialogue over issues that relate to working conditions and the workplace environment. Our people and employee representatives are expected to make all necessary efforts to develop fair and constructive negotiations, overcome the difficulties that they might encounter, reach sustainable agreements and implement them.

    In 2015, around 54% of our employees worldwide were covered by collective bargaining agreements.

    Fostering positive relations with trade unions

    We ensure that direct and frequent communication is established in the workplace and we respect the right of our employees to engage in union activities.

    We continuously seek areas of dialogue, discussion and mutual understanding at all levels of our operations. This includes communities and authorities, as well as local and international stakeholders representing employees and unions, such as the IUF and the Nestlé European Council for Information and Consultation (NECIC). In doing so, we enrich our knowledge of social realities, we share our vision and efforts for sustainable growth and we constantly aim to find opportunities to improve our practices.

    At a local level, we seek a sustained dialogue with external experts, such as the local ILO office, OECD National Contact Point, employer organisations and business associations, to be informed about relevant market trends and exchange views on labour issues.

    It is inevitable that some disputes will occur but, through our policies, principles and values, we seek to ensure that these are settled openly and transparently. In 2015, 31 industrial actions took place around the world. The average percentage of working time lost due to labour disputes, strikes and/or lock-outs was 0.024%.

    We continue to work closely with the IUF, developing a more open relationship and a willingness to work together to tackle labour-related issues around the world. The relationship is based around Joint Operating Principles and bi-annual meetings that take place between the leadership teams, as well as trade union representatives. The relationship is supported by two working groups that focus on gender equality for non-managerial employees and working conditions. Both groups have analysed data from different markets and we are currently analysing the way forward.

  • Nestlé respects the personal dignity, privacy and rights of every employee. We are committed to maintaining a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. Our Human Resources Policy and our Code of Business Conduct state that employees must not discriminate on the basis of origin, nationality, religion, race, gender, age or sexual orientation, or engage in any kind of verbal or physical harassment based on any of the above or any other reason. It is each employee’s responsibility to ensure full compliance with all provisions of our policy and code and to seek guidance where necessary from their line manager, or from the HR, Legal or Compliance functions. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of dismissal and, if warranted, legal proceedings or criminal sanctions.

    Employees who feel that their workplace does not comply with the above principles are encouraged to raise their concerns with the HR department. In 2015, 139 alleged incidents of discrimination in our operations were reported.

  • In 2015, there were 300 grievances about labour practices filed through the Nestlé Integrity Reporting System during the reporting period. Of the substantiated and unsubstantiated cases received, 242 (81%) were closed, of which 48 (16%) grievances were substantiated and corrective action implemented.

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