Joris Huijsmans

CEO (until 2016)

HEINEKEN Breweries

Being legally correct does not always enough for being ethical or fair.  For being ethical, sometimes we need to do more, and therefore we need to review our processes – so did we when looking through the wages and benefits of our colleagues. We decided to increase the minimum wage paid in our company to ensure that basic needs of a decent life can be covered by it. As a results we introduced a company based minimum wage higher than the legal one. As it was covering appr. 3% of the employees, it caused some extra costs but the benefits are overwriting them: our relation to the Labour Council moved to a next level, loyalty and motivation of our people increased, the working climate of our company is better. So the action on 3% of our colleagues had an effect on almost 100% of them. I think all company leaders should have a look on minimum wages, it is our responsibility what living standards we create in this country.

Corporate based fair minimum wage

Industry: FMGC

Date: 2015


Solutions of the macro-sustainability challenges

Provide a living wage which ensures that basic needs for living can be provided

Further targets:

What´s the solution?

The audit of the corporate system of wages and benefits with special regard to equity of rights.

Running operations with full respect to the legal environment is fundamental to our company. Hence no employee is entitled to a lower salary than the minimal wage by law. However minimal wage might not be sufficient to cover the basic needs of a decent life. Therefore in course of an internal audit we made a full analysis on the proportion, the job category and the extent of the lowest salaries within the company. We concluded that 3% of our colleagues were affected by the matter. Operating just in line with regulations did not meet our internal ethical commitments and policies. Hence, in cooperation with the Trade Union we decided to implement a new salary category, called a company based minimum wage. It defines the minimum salary that can be attributed to a colleague. This amount is higher than the minimal wage by law, it is currently at 150.000 HUF (gross) per month and is revised regularly at the annual wage increase calibration by the HR department. No one can earn below this amount, which together with the annual cafeteria sum, higher than the industry average, enables our colleagues to cover the basic needs of a decent life. The measure acts as an internal policy, but is also a mean for generating a cultural change.

Business connection

The key and fundaments of our success in business lays in our colleagues. They are the biggest assets for our company. Hence every measure that affects their lives, values, commitment positively, increases their performance and directly affects the company’s results.


Increasing the minimal wages at our company led to instant cost increases as well. However instead of looking at costs, we consider this measure as a social investment. It is not easy to monetise the impact of the company based minimum wage policy, but the effects are tangible. Our relationship with labour advocacy organisations has improved significantly. The working climate, the commitment of our colleagues along with the moral and performance have all improved. We managed to develop among our colleagues a sense of being part of a strong community and also indirectly we have positively contributed to our employer brand. The measure had direct impact on appr. 3% of our colleagues, however the extended effects are visible at almost 100% of them.