Human rights are universal. As a global healthcare company, Fresenius views the respect for human rights as an integral part of our responsibility. Medical care for patients and the well-being of our around 190,000 employees are among the most important engagement areas of our human rights due diligence.
We are aware that respecting human rights extends beyond our own company operations and core business. We consider human rights issues when selecting and cooperating with our suppliers and business partners, in procurement, sales, and distribution. We expect them, among other requirements, to commit to compliance with the principles set out in our Human Rights Statement. We specify and communicate these expectations in our Code of Conduct for Business Partners. We are working to increase the transparency of our supply chains. The knowledge gained by doing so helps us to ensure secure supplies while reducing human rights risks in the procurement of important raw materials and supplies.
Health is a human right
According to the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human being has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. This includes adequate healthcare. As a globally active healthcare Group, Fresenius contributes to improving access to affordable, high-quality health care in many countries.
Fresenius Human Rights Statement
Fresenius is committed to respecting human rights. We underline this commitment with a Group-wide Human Rights Statement.
Our fundamental principles are:
We are committed to providing a respectful workplace with fair and safe working conditions. We pay wages that meet or exceed local industry conditions or local minimum wages. When we determine wages, we take relevant market conditions into account.1 For this, we comply with the relevant laws and regulations of the place of employment and are guided by international labor rights.
Occupational health and safety are core elements of our business. We are committed to identifying, mitigating, and preventing occupational health and safety-related hazards and risks. This way, we foster a culture that promotes a safe and secure work environment and prevents harm.2
1 Payment of a fair wage at least equal to the minimum wage established by the applicable law; guided by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions 26 and 131.
2 Respect for occupational health and safety obligations under the law of the place of employment, where this creates a risk of accidents at work or work-related health hazards; guided by ILO Conventions 1, 4, 155 and 164.
We respect freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, including the rights of our employees to freely choose whether or not to form and/or be represented by a particular collective body or a trade union, in accordance with the law of the place of employment.3
3 Guided by the ILO Conventions 87, 98, 135 and 154.
We do not tolerate the use or threat of violence, or any other form of coercion. We strictly forbid using, supporting, or approving exploitative and child or forced labor.4 We do not tolerate forced and exploitative labor or any forms of modern slavery. Employment relationships must be based on voluntary participation and can be terminated at any time by the employees of their own free will and within a reasonable period of notice, in line with applicable laws. Salaries shall be fair and in line with the law of the place of employment and not unlawfully be withheld.5
4 Guided by the ILO rules on the prohibition of child labor below the minimum age according to ILO Convention 138 and on the prohibition of the worst forms of child labor according to ILO Convention 182.
5 Respect for the prohibition of forced labor, except for work and services that are in conformity with ILO Convention 29 and 105 or with the 1966 UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We do not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment based on national or ethnic origin, color, social origin, health status, citizenship, disability status, sexual orientation, age, gender or gender identity, gender expression, marital status, pregnancy, political opinion, religion or belief, and any other criteria as protected by local laws and regulations.6
6 Guided by ILO Conventions 110, 111 and 159.
We commit to our joint responsibility to protect nature as the basis of life, to preserve resources and to reduce our impact on the environment. It is our mutual duty to protect resources for future generations.
Wherever we operate we aspire to be a good corporate citizen and respect human rights of the local communities. We are committed to refraining from damaging the soil, polluting water and air, emitting harmful or excessive noise, and using excessive amounts of water, in order to preserve the health of people, the natural bases for the production of food, and to ensure that people have access to safe drinking water and sanitary facilities. We consider these aspects important as we acknowledge the intrinsic connection between human rights and the environment.
We do not engage in the unlawful eviction and takeover of land, forests, or waters, which secure the livelihood of people.
We respect the privacy of every person. We feel accountable for the personal data of our patients, employees, customers, and suppliers. We are committed to protecting personal data and confidential information. Here, we take into account the particular sensitivity of employees as well as patient and health related data.
While we hold ourselves to a high standard, we expect equally high standards of the third parties we are working with. Hence, we also expect our suppliers and other business partners to comply with the principles set out in this statement as well as outlined in the Codes of Conduct across the Fresenius Group. This includes the implementation of appropriate processes to respect human rights – also in their supply chains. Upon request, we expect our suppliers and other business partners to verify how they comply with the human rights principles set out in this statement.
Our commitment set out in this statement is guided by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) as well as relevant
internationally recognized human rights standards and frameworks, such as the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. In cases where international human rights are restricted by local laws, we strive to promote the principles behind the international standards without conflicting with local laws.
We are committed to complying with applicable national laws such as the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains.
Human Rights Program
Our human rights program is based on international standards e.g., the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our primary goal is to establish and continually develop appropriate human rights measures for Fresenius to prevent, end, or minimize the possible negative human rights impact of our business activities and supply chain.
Fresenius established a Human Rights Council to drive the information exchange on current human rights topics across all Fresenius business segments. The council´s task is to promote the further implementation and development of our human rights program across the Group. It is composed of representatives of the four business segments and Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA. The approximately 20 members of the Human Rights Council are active in various functions within the Group, including compliance, legal, sustainability, communications, purchasing, human resources and medicine. The participants discuss Group-wide initiatives and present new concepts and methods.
Employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders can report possible human rights or other types of compliance violations around the clock, either anonymously or by name, via our whistleblowing system*. We treat all information confidentially. We carefully and comprehensively review every report received. We take appropriate action if we identify justified concerns or violations of laws and guidelines. We use the results of internal reviews and reports to review our business processes and implement corrective or improvement measures where necessary.
* The whistleblowing system can be used for reports concerning Fresenius Management SE, Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA and Fresenius Digital Technology. Please address reports for Fresenius Kabi, Fresenius Helios or Fresenius Vamed to the relevant business segment.
Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA
61352 Bad Homburg
Reports on possible human rights or other types of compliance violations can be reported around the clock, either anonymously or by name, via our whistleblower system*:
+49 (0) 800-1401519
+49 (0) 30-58943054