Through their activities, companies can have a direct and indirect impact on human rights in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. Heijmans endorses the general principles of the so-called OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding principles on Business & Human Rights, which describe the special role of companies complying with all applicable legal requirements and respecting all human rights.
Most important aspects of human rights at Heijmans
Heijmans realises that it can exert a positive influence through, for example, the establishment of good collective labour agreements, the purchase of sustainable materials and cooperation with partners who also adhere to the same principles. The human rights aspects at Heijmans are largely common to the entire construction industry. Ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for employees and subcontractors is one of the most material themes on this front. An important risk-mitigating factor is the fact that that Heijmans does not perform any construction activities outside the Netherlands. However, the supply chain is exposed to such risks, but for this we have taken the measures described below.
The management devotes attention to many of the topics related to this theme on a day-to-day basis and they are a standard part of the Executive Board-approved safety, HR and procurement policies. These include issues such as ensuring good working conditions, freedom of association (trade unions), applying fair and equal pay and taking sustainability aspects into account in procurement. With regard to safety, Heijmans works on the basis of 'GO!' (No accidents), an extensive system of policies, processes and monitoring measures aimed at improving the results of this theme, which is important for human rights.
Heijmans also has the 'This is how we work' code of conduct. These rules of conduct are based on a number of fundamental human rights principles and form an integral part of the employment contracts of all Heijmans employees.
The implementation of the actions taken by Heijmans as a result of the Act on combatting Sham constructions (Wet Aanpak Schijnconstructies) also plays a role on this front. Internal and external stakeholders are given the opportunity to make abuses in the chain known, for example via the whistle-blower scheme that we set up.
Heijmans’ role in the chain
The subject of procurement and chain responsibility requires a substantive analysis of the risks associated with the purchased products and a discussion with stakeholders on the scope and depth of monitoring. Suppliers and subcontractors are involved in this dialogue and sign their own statement (supplier sustainability statement) indicating their compliance with human rights legislation. Human rights are therefore part of the Heijmans Sustainable Procurement policy and account management, and we monitor compliance with procurement agreements.
Part of the risks are covered by buying certified products and working with certified suppliers. An example is our decision to only purchase sustainably certified timber, which ensures both environmental and social/human rights aspects through an external monitoring system. Other examples are the certifications related to product quality and safety.