The COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a devasting impact around the world. That is why we remain focused on continuing to use our size and scale, as well as our compassion and commitment to social responsibility, to support and help communities worldwide.
From our supply chain, to our factories, and right through to your homes, we’re working around the clock to ensure that we continue to meet the nutritional needs of your families and pets during this difficult time. We have a duty to ensure that much-needed food, petfood and beverage products are available around the world.
Since March 2020, we have provided support with CHF 90 million in financial and in-kind donations in more than 50 countries. Our initial response to the pandemic focused on helping caregivers and strengthening healthcare systems through a partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Later in 2020, we focused on responding to hunger and poverty, including a partnership with the European Federation of Food Banks. And since April 2021, we are supporting the broad and equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
What are you doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19?
People are at the heart of our business. We are working to keep our employees, business partners and the communities where we operate healthy and safe during the pandemic. Our actions include:
- Asking our employees worldwide not to travel internationally for business purposes until further notice.
- Encouraging office based employees to work from home whenever possible.
- Advising employees on minimizing the risk of infection both at work and at home.
- Requesting that any employees who may be experiencing symptoms inform their line manager and self-quarantine for a 14-day period.
- Maintaining additional safety measures in our factories, offices and distribution centers.
- Working with our supply chain, distribution and retail partners to implement appropriate infection control measures and meet demand for our products.
- Supporting our employees by providing sick pay for those who contract the virus and by paying all hourly and salaried staff affected by temporary stoppages in full for a minimum of twelve weeks. Nestlé’s market organizations decide on the exact timing of the twelve week period per to local conditions.
What are you doing to support communities in need?
We are committed to playing a key role in the global response to this pandemic.
We are helping with relief efforts in many countries around the world, including donations of much-needed products, as well as support for medical institutions, food banks and food-delivery organizations.
Globally, we joined forces with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in response to its emergency appeal. As part of the emergency response, the IFRC is providing immediate help to strengthen health care systems, where the need is greatest. We are working together to provide urgent help for emergency services and caregivers and to strengthen healthcare systems.
We supported the search for a vaccine with a CHF 1 million donation to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which manages the COVAX facility together with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
In April 2021, we donated CHF 2 million to COVAX to speed up vaccinations and to also ensure the broad and fair distribution of vaccines to developing countries.
Our efforts are continuing - and intensifying - around the world.
What are you doing to ensure your products remain available?
We believe that we have a responsibility to provide good nutrition, especially for the most vulnerable in society – children, the elderly and those struggling with illness.
We would like to assure our customers and consumers that we will continue to produce and deliver products to meet global demand – our people are fully committed and are working tirelessly to ensure that supply is maintained.
What measures have you taken for your employees specifically?
We are working very hard to keep them healthy and safe. We have implemented enhanced safety measures at all our sites, with particular focus on our frontline workers in Nestlé factories, quality labs and distribution centers. Where needed, we are offering free meals and transport for staff to help reduce the risk they fall ill.
We are also offering generous sick leave arrangements for those who contract the virus and will provide cash loans or advances for those in financial distress. All hourly and salaried staff affected by temporary stoppages will be paid in full for a minimum of twelve weeks. Nestlé's market organizations decide on the exact timing of the twelve week period per to local conditions.
What does the partnership with the IFRC entail?
We have joined forces with the IFRC in response to its emergency appeal. As part of the emergency response, the IFRC is providing immediate help to strengthen health care systems, where the need is greatest. Initially, we will work together in four ways to provide urgent help for emergency services and caregivers and strengthen healthcare systems:
- We will donate food, medical nutrition products and bottled water to bring relief to those most affected by the pandemic.
- We will deploy available logistics capacities from our out-of-home business to support the needs of the IFRC in various countries.
- We will donate CHF 10 million for immediate deployment in countries where it is most needed.
- We will match 1:1 any donations to the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies or Federation made by our employees.
What are you return-to-work plans?
Where the situation allows, we are managing a phased return to the workplace for our office-based employees. We have asked our employees with pre-existing health conditions and those who otherwise classify under public heath guidance as 'at risk' to continue to work from home.
We are maintaining additional safety measures in our factories, offices and distribution centers. We will gradually increase the number of Nestlé employees returning to the workplace, adapting our facilities to ensure appropriate social distancing. We also encourage our employees in administrative building, factories and distribution centers to wear masks.
What are you doing to ensure that human rights are respected during COVID-19?
While the COVID-19 pandemic presents a challenging situation for Nestlé and its business partners, we remain committed to ensuring that human rights are respected across our business activities. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to implement our human rights activities, sometimes having to adapt them to ensure the health and safety of the communities in which we work, as well of our employees and partners on the ground.
For example, our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System in cocoa was able to continue household visits as these were carried out by community people while respecting social distancing. However remediation activities had to cease for a few months. In Turkey, we had to replace summer schools for the children of migrant workers involved in the harvesting of hazelnuts with other activities, such as outdoor sports activities or drama courses. In Malaysia, together with our palm oil supplier Sime Darby Plantation we were able to continue the roll-out of a workers voice system, allowing workers to ask questions and raise concerns during the pandemic.
We also recognize that COVID-19 has had an impact on the most vulnerable workers in agricultural supply chains. To better understand this, we are supporting academic research from the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights in this field.