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Exchange with employee representatives

Trust and cooperation between management, employees, and employee representatives is well established at Fresenius and is an integral part of our corporate culture. Open and ongoing dialog between management and employee representatives, as well as unions, is important to us.

At Group level, the Group Management Board member responsible for, Legal, Compliance, Risk Management, ESG, Human resources and the business segment Fresenius Vamed is in exchange with the European Works Council (EWC) of Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA. At the regional or local level, the responsible specialist functions conduct the discussions with employee representatives as well as the trade unions.

Existing internal codes and guidelines include the commitment to respect international working and social standards. Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA respects freedom of association and recognizes the right to collective bargaining. Employees have the right to join or not to join a union in accordance with local laws. We do not tolerate discrimination based on trade union membership and act accordingly. We are committed to an open and solution-oriented dialog between employees and their representatives, and our management within the relevant legal and operational frameworks. For more information, see the Human rights section.

Employees liaise with their supervisors in this regard, but they can also turn to their HR or compliance officers, as well as to the works council, their union representatives, or other employee representatives for assistance.

In European countries, workplace representation bodies are organized according to national law. The business segments have overall responsibility for dealing with local employee representatives and trade unions at country or site level. Our discussions with these representatives focus on local and regional circumstances. Together with the employee representatives, we aim to find tailored solutions to the challenges in the different locations. Further information is included in the business segment sections.

Fresenius has reached an agreement with the EWC, establishing a structured dialog with the global unions. On this basis, meetings are held once a year between representatives of the business segments, the employee representatives of the Supervisory Board, and representatives of the international trade union associations. In the reporting year, the meeting took place in November. The exchange was about activities relating to human rights due diligence and reorganization processes and their impacts on employees in the Group.

Dialog at European level

The EWC of Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA comprised 15 employee representatives from 9 countries as of December 31, 2023. These individuals come from the European Union (EU) and EEA (European Economic Area) member states in which Fresenius employs personnel. In total, the Fresenius Group employs 155,883 people in Europe, which corresponds to 80% of the total number of employees. Of the employees in Europe, Germany alone accounts for 60%.

The EWC represents all employees in the EU and the EEA. It is responsible for the participation of Fresenius employees in cross-border measures, insofar as these have a significant impact on the interests of Fresenius personnel and affect at least two countries within their area of responsibility, such as the relocation or closure of companies or collective redundancies. The management informs and consults with the EWC on the following topics, for example: the structure as well as the economic and financial situation of the Group, its anticipated growth, employment situation, investments, organizational changes, and the introduction of new work and production processes. The EWC meets once a year, while its executive committee convenes three times a year, partially in hybrid form. There were also two extraordinary meetings of the Executive Committee in the reporting year. The European trade union federations IndustriALL and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) attend the meetings at the invitation of the EWC.

The focus topics of the EWC in the past fiscal year were projects in the Group’s business segments for reorganization, e. g., measures in connection with the Vision 2026 strategy, the effects of the Fresenius Medical Care deconsolidation, the digital transformation, the Group-wide cost and efficiency program, and compliance matters relating to the Group’s human rights declaration, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The EBR also discussed the global engagement survey as well as international projects, such as those in logistics or the supply chain.

At its annual meeting, the EWC entered into dialog with the Management Boards of Fresenius Kabi, Fresenius Vamed, and Fresenius Medical Care.

Regular training courses are held for the members of the EWC, for example in the reporting on the topic of corporate due diligence for human rights. Through company visits, the members of the EWC regularly gain an impression of the various locations and interact with employer and employee representatives. In the reporting year, the EWC visited a Helios clinic in Germany. The Executive Committee was on site at a Fresenius Kabi location in Portugal.

In 2021, the EWC elected six employee representatives to the Supervisory Board of Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA, including one representative of the trade unions. Due to the change in the legal form of Fresenius Medical Care, one employee representative left the Supervisory Board of Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA. Her successor from Fresenius Kabi was appointed to the Supervisory Board of Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA. For more information, please refer to the Corporate Governance Declaration in the Annual Report 2023.

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Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA
Group ESG