Compliance with human rights is a high priority and is becoming increasingly important, for example with regard to supply chains and value chains. Companies recognise their responsibility in this respect, and customers and investors are placing greater demands on transparency.
Sustainable, fair and non-discriminatory working conditions are a growing challenge, not only on the supplier side, but also within every company. Transformation processes are necessary to enable sustainable entrepreneurial activities.
We know these challenges and our specialists will support you on your journey. We provide comprehensive advice on all matters in this regard, including the following topics:
Sustainable supply chain
Many companies try to avoid human rights abuses and environmental damage in their domestic and international supply chains - out of conviction and for better marketing. They recognise that supply chain compliance is increasingly important to customers and investors, and that negative press can entail a significant risk for their reputation.
Recently, legal risks have increasingly come to the fore. This is due, on the one hand, to the growing number of legal disputes: Increasingly, injured parties from developing countries are making claims against large European companies. On the other hand, there are initiatives for supply chain legislation at German and EU level.
Due diligence and reporting obligations are already in place across Europe in the CSR Directive and the Conflict Minerals Regulation. In addition, California, Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have adopted corresponding provisions. In Switzerland, obligations for companies similar to those under current EU law are expected to apply soon, supplemented by a due diligence obligation with regard to child labour - based on the Dutch model. German companies also have to comply with these foreign laws - or can at least be indirectly affected if their customers demand compliance with them.
We stay up to date and support you in implementing measures to comply with human rights and environmental standards in your supply chains - whether they are legally stipulated, contractually required or requested by you. This includes not only reviewing new or current suppliers and drafting contracts with customers and suppliers, but also long-term projects for safe and sustainable production at foreign locations and establishing a system for risk assessment and prevention along your supply chains. And if a dispute arises with injured parties, business partners or authorities, we will be there to advise and represent your company.
New work post COVID
Corona poses new challenges for HR departments in the age of globalisation and digitalisation. More than ever, employers have to balance the needs of a changing work environment with the legal framework and the wishes of their own employees. After all, this is the only way to create sustainable working conditions in the future under which people enjoy working successfully and find their work meaningful in the long term.
We can support you with the following topics, for example.
Occupational health and safety
Occupational health and safety are nothing new, but they have a completely new significance in many companies as a result of the Corona pandemic. They are no longer seen as just an additional expense, but as an opportunity to provide attractive working conditions and achieve long-term employee retention. Working through the relevant issues and the need to involve the works council in many aspects are therefore tasks that need to be tackled in addition to dealing with the pandemic. New pandemic-related issues have also arisen: The trend from individual offices to desk sharing and clean desks must be reassessed due to COVID-19. Compliance with occupational health and safety regulations may lead to a reversal, or at least a review of existing concepts. The works council's participation rights must be borne in mind in this respect as well.
Sustainable remuneration concepts
Developing sustainable compensation has become an essential part of modern HR strategies. They are a central factor in competing for the best minds, but also a sign of appreciation, advancement and employee loyalty. They are an expression of a reliable working environment.
We advise companies comprehensively on designing and introducing modern remuneration models, both for board members and senior executives as well as other employee groups. Our expertise ranges from short-term and long-term remuneration, virtual share plans and true profit-sharing plans to carry agreements and other benefits. We specialise in advising on remuneration plans in regulated industries, executive board remuneration taking into account the Shareholder Rights Directive (ARUG II) and the German Corporate Governance Code (DCGK) as well as in negotiating remuneration plans with works councils.
Our remuneration team is well-established and respected in the market and includes international experts in the fields of labour law, stock corporation law, supervisory law and tax law. We also bring in renowned external remuneration consultants with whom we have been working for years. With this integrated approach, we ensure that you receive customised remuneration advice "from a single source"!
Mobile working and working from home
Working from home and mobile working have become an inseparable part of the new work environment. Both forms of work have experienced a completely unexpected prevalence due to the Corona pandemic. What was introduced virtually "overnight" and accepted as a necessity by works councils, employees and the authorities still has to be adapted for the long-term and placed on legally stable footing.
We advise you on the legal framework and support you in negotiations with employee representatives to implement the best concept for your company.
Modern working conditions for employees
Attractive working conditions for employees are no longer a luxury; they are expected if companies want to successfully attract applicants and retain employees. They reflect the corporate culture and can contribute to the sustainability strategy. In addition to occupational health and safety, mobile working/working from home and the agile transformation, this also includes the following topics:
- Flexible, "work-life compliant" working hours
- Sabbatical/lifetime working time accounts
- Company bike instead of company car
- Provision of company housing
Our specialists from a wide range of legal fields know the legal framework and will accompany you if you want to break new ground with your working conditions.
Perspectives from other countries
Further information on the topic "Future of work" from the perspective of other countries can be found here.
Diversity & inclusion
Creating working conditions that offer equal opportunities for all and promote diversity is essential for the sustainable success of companies today. Such lived values are important for young talented professionals when choosing an employer. They also help your reputation and ensure greater identification with the corporate culture.
The concept of inclusion describes a society in which there is no normal standard, but everyone is accepted and participates equally. The differences that are perceived as enriching are considered to be "normal". Companies are required by law to ensure equal participation of severely disabled people in working life.
We can help you analyse your processes, advise you on all legal issues arising in this context and support and represent you in negotiating an inclusion agreement with the works council and the representative body for severely disabled persons.
Non-discriminatory corporate governance
Sustainable corporate governance is inextricably linked to avoiding discrimination. Diversity ensures that topics are viewed from the widest variety of angles. This makes it easier to avoid mistakes and generate added value. Often, the company's reputation, attractiveness as an employer and the motivation of the workforce are also related to a working environment that is free of discrimination and promotes diversity. Internal company processes, for example in selecting applicants, in the context of qualification and personnel development, in the structuring of remuneration or in the context of company pension schemes, must therefore be checked repeatedly to ensure that they prevent discrimination and allow or even promote diversity. Special attention should also be paid to avoiding indirect discrimination, which can cost companies dearly - whether in the course of current employment relationships or in the context of staff reductions.
We help you question measures and processes on the basis of the applicable laws and German and European case law and/or establish such measures and processes.
Uncovering and eliminating internal grievances is part of sustainable corporate governance. Since the EU Whistleblower Directive was adopted, it has become increasingly important to provide internal reporting channels for this purpose. We review your existing compliance structures and assist in developing and implementing programmes that encourage potential whistleblowers to raise compliance concerns internally. If reports are nevertheless communicated outside the company, we will assist you in taking the necessary legal steps.
Companies are increasingly realising how closely their success in the market is linked to the issue of sustainability. More and more companies are therefore going through extensive change processes and responding to this demand by reorganising their product portfolios and building sustainable corporate and operational structures.
We accompany you with your transformation processes.
Agile transformation processes are primarily associated with introducing new working methods. Sometimes conventional remuneration models (bonuses) are no longer appropriate and need to be adapted. Using external staff in agile teams needs to be carefully considered in order to exclude the risk of illegally hiring out employees. Finally, there is the question of how to detect and, if necessary, sanction poor performance in agile teams.
In view of the issue of sustainability and the ongoing digitalisation and automation of work processes, many companies are facing the challenge of eliminating traditional jobs and creating new jobs with new skills. Employees must therefore be further trained on the basis of the qualifications they already have ("up-skilling") or even acquire completely new qualifications ("re-skilling"). At the same time, employees with skills not previously available in the company must be recruited ("new-hires"), which entails further challenges considering the shortage of skilled workers. The issue becomes even more complex since the current economic situation (further) intensifies cost pressure for many companies. Classical means of restructuring hit a wall here.
Against this background, it is important to develop clever concepts taking into account the organisational instruments provided under labour law.
Transformation and restructuring
Depending on the company, the transformation to sustainable corporate and operational structures may only require minor measures or it could entail extensive structural intervention and restructuring.
We support you from the strategic preparation up to implementation of your entrepreneurial decisions on site.