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Solvay pursues comprehensive initiatives and processes to cultivate the engagement and well-being of its employees, including:

  • personal development
  • reward & recognition
  • inclusive culture
  • work-life balance.

The Group 2025 target is an engagement index of 80%. This index is used as a yardstick to decide which actions are needed in these four areas.

Solvay’s strategic objective:

2025

80%

of Solvay Engagement Index

In 2016, the Engagement of Solvay's workforce was assessed via the "Pulse Survey", a shortened annual version of the global "Solvay employee survey" census, last carried out in 2015 and next scheduled for 2018. More than 23,000 employees answered 23 questions regarding their views on employment, management, and the activities of the Group as a whole.

The rate of engagement, deduced from a limited number of questions and reflecting the satisfaction of Solvay's personnel and their commitment to Solvay's success, stands at 77%, 2 percentage point more than in 2015. Site managers have been briefed on the results and shared them with personnel so that they can define improvement actions.

The survey also assesses perceptions about well-being at work, measured using four questions encompassing workload, mutual respect, immediate supervisor’s support of efforts to achieve work-life balance, and satisfaction with working conditions. The average share of favorable answers increased slightly, to 67% from 64% last year. In 2016, work-life balance guidelines were drafted and distributed throughout the Solvay Group.

Social dialog

Engagement is also fostered by regular dialog between the managers of the Group and the employees. It is part of Solvay culture. Solvay considers that maintaining trusting and constructive relations with employees and their representatives forms the basis for such dialog. This relationship is built on the Group’s commitment to respecting employees’ fundamental human rights and to guaranteeing their social rights. The agreement with IndustriALL formalizes the Group’s commitment.

More specifically, social dialog covers dialog with employees’ representatives at four levels: sites, countries, Europe, and Group.

Solvay Global Forum

In 2015 Solvay created a global employee representative body, the Solvay Global Forum, composed of eight employee representatives coming from the seven main countries where Solvay operates. This Global Forum meets with the executive committee once a year, in Brussels, during a one-week session. Visio conferences are organized every quarter, between the Solvay Global Forum and the top management of the Group, to comment and discuss the quarterly results of the Group, and to be informed of the main new projects.

One of the main topics is the negotiation of the Global Performance Sharing plan, which entitles each employee of the Group to a share of the Group’s EBITDA, and which also includes sustainability criteria (progress in the Solvay Way annual self-assessment).

European Works Council (EWC)

A permanent dialog has been established for more than 20 years between Solvay and its European Works Council (EWC). In 2016, the EWC met three times in a plenary session. The sustainable development EWC commission met twice and the EWC Secretariat met 11 times with senior Group management, allowing these representative bodies to be part of the evolution of the Group. Subject matters receiving particular attention were mergers and acquisitions, restructuring issues, evolution of employment and working conditions in the Group, and strategy and sustainable development issues

The main topics discussed with the Sustainable Development Commission of the European Works Council in 2016 include the new societal actions policy, the five priority targets of the Group, the new health and safety plan, the “well-being at work” project, and the results of the Group’s sustainability performance assessment by extra-financial rating agencies.

Health and safety topics in the IndustriALL agreement

Several formal agreements have been concluded with trade unions at different locations of the group, e.g. 12 sites in the United States are covered by healthcare plans based on collective agreements. Two such agreements exist in France. The topic of safety is included in the agreement signed with IndustriALL. The specificity of this global agreement lies in the desire of both partners to make it operative in a concrete and dynamic way.

Every year, IndustriALL representatives meet Solvay employees to check on compliance in the field, with two assessment missions taking place at two different sites. One mission measures the results of the Group’s safety policy. The second examines the application of the agreement, which, in particular, formally covers the following health and safety aspects:

  • Ensuring good working conditions
  • Managing risk as a daily concern
  • Defining demanding internal policies and their stringent application
  • Improving safety performance and regular monitoring of own and contractors’ employees
  • Ensuring healthy working conditions for all personnel, regardless of the job they perform and its associated risks.

Solvay strives to improve even further the level of its social dialog, as the relationship with its employee representatives is considered to be crucial for its future development and for its acceptance in society at large. This topic and its level of maturity is part of the Solvay Way annual self-assessment.

Employee Representation Indicator

Trade unions are present at a majority of Solvay sites around the world. Union membership is estimated at 20% in Europe, 30% in South America, 10% in North America, and 70% in Asia. This increase in Asia is due to a reevaluation of the percentage of the affiliate in China (100%).

Coverage of employees by collective agreements

Collective bargaining agreements can be at local (site), national (company), industry (e.g. chemicals industry), or Group level. The content can cover various topics such as shift work payments or pay structures and increases, working time, treatment of part-timers, training, bonuses, financial participation, retirement plans, employment contracts, and gender equality.

In the majority of cases collective agreements are extended to all employees, even if they are not members of a union. Coverage by collective agreements is at the level of 87.8% worldwide. This includes a group collective agreement called Global Performance Sharing Plan, concluded each year with the Solvay Global Forum, under which all non-exempt employees are covered.

These data indicate that freedom of association is ensured within the Group and that its practical application provides mutually agreed working conditions for our employees.

Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes

Some of the collective bargaining agreements specify notice periods for consultation and negotiation. The Global framework agreement concluded between Solvay and IndustriALL Global union includes a provision for employees and unions (where they exist) to be informed in advance of any restructuring plans. In some of the collective bargaining agreements a notice period and provisions for consultation and negotiation may be specified.