Human and labour rights for employees


Fundamental principles and rights at work

We employ approximately 43,000 people worldwide and believe all employees have a fundamental right to responsible working conditions. We take appropriate measures and always ensures that human and labour rights of our employees within Novo Nordisk are protected.

Ensuring we treat everyone with respect is a part of Novo Nordisk foundational values and expressed in Novo Nordisk Way Essential 6.


Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines

Novo Nordisk is committed to meeting its responsibility to respect human rights as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and we are committed to the principles of responsible business conduct defined by the United Nations Global Compact. Novo Nordisk has been an active participant to the UN Global Compact since 2002.

Our commitment to respect and support human and labour rights for Novo Nordisk employees is described in Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines. The guideline is designed to establish a uniform minimum labour standard for all Novo Nordisk sites and employees:


Working hours, living wage and leave

We are committed to providing for permissible working hours. We will not make excessive use of pre-agreed overtime work, and pre-agreed overtime hours worked will be duly compensated. We ensure that all employees receive a living wage which is required to meet basic needs. We provide rest-periods, breaks, and leave for all our employees. Leave includes vacation and holiday leave, sickness leave and parental leave.


Employee privacy

We secure the right to privacy of our employees whenever personal employee data is gathered or the workplace is monitored.


Equal treatment and non-discrimination

We are committed to promoting equality of opportunities within Novo Nordisk. We believe that equal treatment provides an attractive, engaging, and effective workplace for our employees. We offer equal treatment and opportunities for all employees, and a working environment free from discrimination and harassment.

  • Equality is applied to all stages of employment; the recruitment process, working conditions, remuneration, development, promotion and termination in accordance with local conditions or requirements by local law
  • Equality means free from discrimination due to gender, marital or family status, race/ethnic origin, including colour, national or social origin, religious belief, political orientation, sexual orientation/sexual identity, age or disability
  • Discrimination or harassment is unacceptable behaviour. This applies to behaviour at work, at work assignments outside the office, at office-sponsored social functions and to private behaviour that can be related to Novo Nordisk (e.g. on the social media)
  • Disabled employees must benefit from specific measures aiming to adapt their working stations to guarantee their physical comfort
  • Identify tasks which could be offered disabled people employed in the company.


Employee representation

We respect our employees’ right to associate freely, to join or refrain from joining labour unions and workers’ councils. If employees have chosen not to be represented by a union, management and employees may address workplace-related topics in a suitable forum.


Forced and child labour

We are committed not to participate in or benefit from the use of any form of forced or involuntary labour, including the use of human trafficking. We respect minimum age requirements.


Grievance mechanisms

We are committed to providing access for our employees’ mechanisms for raising workplace-related griev-ances. Employees may raise concerns directly with their managers, human resources, or through other channels. Furthermore, employees may report grievances in a secure and confidential manner via the Compliance Hotline.


Related Novo Nordisk code of conducts and guidelines

In addition, we have a number of code of conducts and guidelines respecting and promoting the labour conditions of our employees, such as:



Novo Nordisk Global People Compliance unit is committed to the establishment of Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines, and to enforce continuous monitoring of the Guidelines proper implementation in all sites globally. The Guidelines are overseen by Novo Nordisk Global People and Organisation Management.

Should any employee suspect that the Guidelines are violated, they should bring this forward to their managers or human resource contact’s attention immediately. The responsible manager is required to take the necessary actions to end any potential violations of the Guidelines. No employees will be retaliated against if they report a violation or demand the application of the Guidelines.

All sites must ensure that Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines are properly implemented in their local employment practices and ensure that all local guidelines are developed and communicated to meet minimum labour standards.


Human rights due diligence for employees

Novo Nordisk Global People Compliance unit performs an ongoing risk management process. The risk management assessment process is led by the Global People Compliance unit. The objective of the process is to secure we identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how we address potential adverse human and labour rights impacts with which Novo Nordisk may be involved in. The Global People and Organisation Management review and approve the identified key human and labour rights impacts to be mitigated.

Throughout this process we draw on internal and independent external human rights expertise and findings, and consult with potentially affected groups and relevant stakeholders. Among others, we engage with; the internal value audit office (Facilitation), Novo Nordisk Ombudsman and the Compliance Hotline, members of the European Work Council, Labour Unions, the Health and Safety unit, Business Ethics Office, line of business and the human resources community. Finally, we collaborate with several partners, peers and human and labour rights experts while also overseeing emerging and external trends on human and labour rights violations. The Global People Compliance unit is also represented in Novo Nordisk Human Rights Strategic Forum to ensure alignment and collaboration.

We identify and assess our key human and labour rights impacts for our employees in an internal and external context and with reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the International Bill of Human Rights. From here we can determine and focus on our most salient human and labour rights issues and how to prevent and mitigate.


Actions and reporting

To mitigate and prevent adverse human and labour rights impacts, all findings are acted upon immediately. To date, we have reported and performed mitigating actions on; living wage, child labour, non-discrimination, equal treatment, employee representation and freedom of association.

Our global organisation continues to demonstrate it meets and is aligned with the expectations set out in Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines. We have also assessed working hours, pre-agreed compensated overtime and rest time (breaks). We found that our global organisation has a high level of commitment to providing permissible working hours and doesn’t make excessive use of pre-agreed overtime, but ensures due compensation when it does occur.



We are committed to continuously oversee and improve human and labour rights for all employees in Novo Nordisk globally. It has been 7 years since the first edition of Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines was released and we have thus, in end of 2018 collaborated with external human and labour rights experts on a review of Novo Nordisk Global Labour Guidelines. During 2019 possible actions from the review will be disclosed on human and labour rights principles for our employees during 2019.


Raising concerns

Employees may raise complaints and concerns through the following channels:

Employees may choose confidentiality or anonymity which is respected. If an adverse human or labour rights impact is identified, an action plan with deadlines is agreed upon and follow-up meetings are conducted. Furthermore, meetings with the Facilitation team are held to discuss and identify up-coming trends in the labour conditions.