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Human rights are an important element of Merck’s commitment to conducting our business in a responsible manner.

Merck respects human rights as recognized by the principles of the United Nations Global Compact and as defined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the core labor standards set out in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Our Belief

Merck believes in the dignity of every human being and in respecting individual rights. The company has established global policies and processes to demonstrate this respect, including Merck’s Global Policy on Human Rights and Our Values and Standards (Code of Conduct), which reaffirms our commitment to scientific excellence, ethics and integrity.

Our Values and Standards outlines our responsibilities to our customers, our fellow employees, our suppliers, our communities and to societies around the world, as well as to our shareholders. These responsibilities are not only the foundation of our company and what we stand for, but the basis of our success. Our Global Policy on Human Rights further strengthens our commitment in this area by defining specific roles and responsibilities to ensure that our policies are effectively implemented across Merck.

Our Aim

We seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights practices that are directly linked to our operations, products or services.

Our Commitment

Our commitment is formalized and manifested through various policies, including our Human Rights Policy, Our Values and Standards (Code of Conduct), our Global Labor Relations Guiding Principles and our environmental governance and management systems. Specifically:

  1. Labor Standards: We maintain labor standards, including hours, conditions, wages and overtime pay practices, that are in compliance with the laws of the jurisdictions in which we operate.
  2. Health & Safety: We provide a safe and healthy work environment in all of our operations, regardless of their size or function.
  3. Freedom of Association: We respect our employees’ right to freedom of association.
  4. Forced & Child Labor: We condemn the use of forced labor and exploitative child labor as defined by the International Labor Organization’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
  5.  Wages & Benefits: We compensate our employees in accordance with market practice in a manner that supports their ability to meet their basic needs. We also offer our employees the opportunity to improve their skills and capabilities.
  6. Diversity & Equal Opportunities: We value diversity and strive to provide equal opportunities for all individuals.
  7. Privacy: We respect individual privacy expectations and protect personal information that we collect, use and disclose in connection with our business.
  8. Access to Healthcare: We respect the right to health for all people and work toward expanding access to care.
  9. Customers: We take into consideration the economic, social, geographic and cultural diversity of our customers as we develop and market our products.
  10. Business Partners: We expect appropriate standards of conduct and respect for human rights, consistent with our own, from our suppliers, contractors, vendors and partners.
  11. Communities: We respect the human rights of our neighbors in those areas where we have operations or facilities.
  12. International Standards: We respect international standards on human rights and, where possible, contribute by working with partners.
  13.  Non-Discrimination: We do not discriminate in employment, contracting, wages, promotion, working conditions or in any other opportunity based on race, color, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, age, religion, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or any other legally protected characteristic subject to compliance with applicable law.
  14. Compliance: We adhere to local laws. When local protection is insufficient or nonexistent, we observe even more demanding standards consistent with our human rights policy to the extent that these standards do not violate local laws and regulations.

Our Approach

Merck’s Global Policy on Human Rights was developed with input from employees in key functional areas and from external stakeholders. It was approved by Merck’s Executive Committee, which is also responsible for ensuring that governance processes are in place to provide oversight of the implementation and execution of the policy.

Merck’s executive vice president/chief ethics and compliance officer, who is a member of Merck’s Executive Committee, advises the Executive Committee on human rights-related issues. Noncompliance with Merck’s human rights policy is subject to escalation, investigation and remediation in accordance with internal corporate policies.

Resources for Employees

Merck’s Office of Ethics serves as an employee resource for raising concerns about ethical issues, including noncompliance with corporate policies. Employees globally can contact (via toll-free telephone or intranet) the AdviceLine, which is run by an outside vendor. Employees also can contact the Office of Ethics directly and speak with an ethics officer. Potential compliance violations are subject to escalation, investigation and remediation in accordance with our established global processes.

Engagement with Suppliers

We expect our suppliers and service providers to comply with human rights and environmental standards that are compatible with our own, and to conduct their business in accordance with the highest ethical standards throughout their entire supply chain. A new Business Partner Code of Conduct further communicates our expectations. The code is based on our own code of conduct, Our Values and Standards, as well as the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative’s (PSCI’s) Pharmaceutical Industry Principles for Responsible Supply Chain Management and the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact. We have implemented procedures to provide business partners with our Business Partner Code of Conduct so that our values and standards, including protection of human rights, are clearly communicated at the outset. We have translated the Business Partner Code of Conduct into 26 different languages to help ensure that the content is widely understood.

Learn more about environmental, labor and human rights in the supply chain.

Last Updated August 1, 2013