Do not undermine and undermine collective bargaining autonomy and social partnership through bureaucratic standardization projects.

Voluntary private standardization, organized for many years by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), is a task in which industry is intensively involved. DIN standards have earned a good reputation in the world and in Germany over decades. Technical standards in particular have contributed to the success of "Made in Germany". In contrast, the extension of the topics to areas reserved for the social partners is alarming.

Standardization in its original form is a means of economic policy to strengthen the national internal market in the long term. The focus is on the standardization of technical products and processes, which primarily cover the industrial sector. At European level, technical standardization also plays a key role in strengthening the European Economic Area and the border-free transfer of technologies and innovations (New Legislative Framework).
Tariff autonomy, company partnerships and entrepreneurial freedom affected
In recent years, however, the activities of DIN and, above all, of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have increasingly extended into subject areas which are protected by the Basic Law as the primary field of activity of the industrial and social partners. The principles applicable to technical standardization cannot, for example, be transferred to the standardization of in-company personnel work, since here they come up against the autonomy of collective bargaining guaranteed by the Basic Law (Article 9 (3) GG). There is a rapidly growing number of standardization projects, particularly in the areas of company personnel policy and occupational health and safety. Other standards which directly affect the social partners are to be found in the areas of corporate social responsibility (CSR), whistleblowing, sustainable finance and compliance. Illustrative examples of this are the ISO standardization project "Human Resource Management", which, with a large number of ongoing or completed individual projects, affects almost all areas of company personnel policy, and the application on "Social Responsibility" for the creation of many new ISO standards on CSR. Particularly explosive in terms of personnel policy is the ISO project "Compensation", which aims to establish comprehensive, general rules for the area of remuneration, its design, processes, composition and responsibilities for all companies, regardless of size. The standardization project goes far beyond what is provided for, for example, by the Remuneration Transparency Act or the Minimum Wage Act in the private and public sectors. This undermines the regulations on pay that have been jointly negotiated in collective bargaining and company agreements.
 
In the area of occupational health and safety, two standards dealing with the subject of "psychosocial risks at work" are being developed simultaneously in an uncoordinated manner (cf. ISO 10075 and ISO 45003).
 
The guidelines for a whistleblowing management system are in final consultations at ISO level. So far, the draft guidelines go beyond the Whistleblowing Directive in some places. This is particularly explosive in light of the fact that the directive must be implemented in national law by 17 December 2021.

 

Individual interests must not prevail over democratic design processes
These initiatives are very often driven by individual interests and management consultants. As a result of such activities, employers, but also employees, in Germany are increasingly running the risk that operational room for manoeuvre is unnecessarily and -- unasked for - restricted. Although the application of a standard is basically voluntary, it can lead to a de facto compulsion to apply it due to its general acceptance as state-of-the-art and via public procurement, and can even become part of case law via the interpretation of indeterminate legal terms. In the DIN advisory committees, all representatives, regardless of how many companies or employees they speak for, have equal weight, so that individual interests can be enforced via a majority in the committees. In particular, the autonomy of collective bargaining, as a supporting pillar of the social market economy and guarantor of social peace and prosperity in Germany, is in danger of being restricted and undermined by such standardization projects.

 

Limitation of standardization in the area of interest of the social partnership
It is not acceptable for interested parties to produce questionable "standards" in their own interests which damage the good reputation of the DIN standard and "impose" bureaucratic regulations on all employers which go far beyond the deliberate self-restrictions of the legislator.
 

The BDA has therefore already specifically increased its commitment to standardization work together with its members and is intensively involved in the various standardization projects and the work in the various national and international standardization organizations. Our aim is above all to campaign for the preservation of operational room for manoeuvre. There should be a clear differentiation between technical standardization and socio-political standardization. By expanding its business model, DIN must not also reinforce the international trend towards standardization in the socio-political field. Here, self-regulation by industry and thus, in this case, by the social partners, no longer exists. This goes far beyond the interests of companies.

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