Our responsibility for employees and sites.

16,500 employees from 87 nations prove our commitment to Germany as an economic location


Our employees are very important to us. We are aware that daily teamwork forms the basis for our success. We work under the following motto: 100% Team Tönnies – Responsibility for food.
Tönnies has consciously decided to continue to manufacture the majority of its products in Germany. The company is committed to the location of Germany. However, at the same time we are also required to work together with employees on service contracts in order to meet our production orders. Although we have been trying to attract qualified employees for years, we are also feeling the effects of the skills shortage.

Jasmin Koch

Human Resources

Important key figures

We are “The burger builder”

Four pillars of common success

Variety and responsibility are embodied and actively created by our employees, whether apprentice or manager, whether German or from elsewhere. We would like to specifically highlight four aspects:

The Tönnies Group does not only employ staff from the 28 EU states. Today employees from 87 diverse nations work for the Tönnies Group, and these personal differences strengthen the team spirit and diversity within the company.

Our safety experts check occupational safety at our sites and in individual workplaces and develop it further. In this regard, our commitment exceeds the limits of our corporate group. We also work with the responsible Berufsgenossenschaft Nahrungsmittel und Gastgewerbe [liability insurance association for the food and hospitality sector] and maintain close partnerships with the occupational health and safety authorities and external specialists.

The continuous education and training of our employees represents an important factor in our success. In this regard, the focus is on the necessary individual development of individual employees. From presentation training to on-the-job training to management training, we offer our employees suitable training opportunities.

It is our goal to also offer our employees a number of opportunities away from their job, so that they remain satisfied, motivated and healthy. For this reason, we have implemented numerous measures to strengthen the work-life balance. For example, we established the Tönnies childcare facility at our site in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The regular family days and company sports teams at different sites also offer opportunities for colleagues to get to know each other better. The apprentices in Weißenfels and Rheda-Wiedenbrück also meet several times each year at joint events, such as paintball games, human table football and barbecue evenings.

Employees introduce themselves

Manfred Seitz
Responsible for Incoming Goods at Tillman’s

Markus Schiegner
Shift Supervisor Quality Assurance

Guido Stroop
Technical Manager for Heating, Sanitation and Air-Conditioning

Joining Tönnies

Welcome structure with individual assistance on site at the start
100% Team Tönnies, that is our guiding principle and one which we adopt from day one: we want to give our new employees a good start to their new job. This encompasses both professional and human assistance. To guarantee an optimum start at our company, there is an introductory phase with four modules:

First day
After you have been welcomed by our Human Resources department on the first day of work, we make sure that you feel comfortable at Tönnies. A personal contact partner in your new department is on hand with advice and tips.

Tönnies Academy
In addition to a detailed introduction to the workplace, an online course at Tönnies Academy helps you to quickly take on board your new responsibilities and tasks. Here, a wide variety of web seminars are available to you.

Further training
After your initial period at the company, Team Tönnies offers individual customised training. The wide-ranging seminar programme offers both internal group training and external training for individuals.

We support our employees in more than their jobs. We are committed to helping you with issues such as finding accommodation and school enrolment, as well as other administrative matters, so you can always contact us any time about issues such as these.

Work contracts at Tönnies

Of the 16,500 employees at the Tönnies Group, around 50 per cent are employed as work contract partners. For years, the family company has tried to attract qualified and competent butchers and abattoir workers – in view of the nationwide skills shortage, this is no easy task.

For this reason, Tönnies focuses on making itself more attractive as an employer and tries to attract potential trainees and apprentices. At the same time, Tönnies follows a clear timetable in cooperation with the work contract partners within the company. The goal is to support employees in becoming familiar with their new life, to inform them about cultural and sporting activities on site, to initiate new language courses, and to provide assistance when dealing with local authorities and childcare. Numerous initiatives and measures have already been developed in dialogue and in partnership with local politicians, authorities and associations on site. We still have this task in mind and will continue to work on other solutions with the stakeholders in the region.

Martin Bocklage

Human Resources

The successful development of the company involves cooperation with specialised work contract companies, in addition to many other factors. These service partners work with permanent employees with specific trades in the production chain.

Work contracts have been a fixed part of business life not just since the German Civil Code came into effect in 1900. They are generally used in public tenders from the federal government, regions and communes, in trades, all branches of industry and services, and also in the food industry. They enable efficient production based on division of labour using manufacturing-specific competences and are a recognised tool for the comparison of possible order- or competition-related peaks and troughs.

Tönnies acknowledges the values of the European Union in all business areas and without restriction. Freedom of services for European companies and freedom of movement for all employees within the European Union are cornerstones of the European values as agreed in EU directive 2004/38/EG of 29 April 2004. This directive is the foundation supporting the ability of European work contract companies to work in Germany with their employees and their trades.

The employees of our service partners are essential colleagues for Tönnies. We only use work contract partners who employ their staff in accordance with the general employment and social conditions of the production country; thus in our German production sites, in accordance with the employment conditions valid for German employees. Our production will still need competent and reliable abattoir workers, butchers and trained labour who, because of the current good economic situation in Germany, are not available in sufficient numbers. Therefore, work contracts are the only way in which we can successfully fulfil our orders for retail, large customers and ultimately for consumers. For this reason, we will continue our sustainable cooperation with German and international service providers and their employees.

With a work contract, the contractor is obliged to produce the promised work for the customer (§ 631, par. 1 BGB [German Civil Code]). Conversely, the customer is obliged to pay the agreed remuneration to the contractor.

The staff are employed by the contractor, not by the customer. This means that the contractor is entitled to issue instructions and that the work contract employees are thus instructed to establish the trade. This also means that the work contract employees are paid by the contractor and that the contractor is responsible for health and social insurance.

The customer may not treat the employees of the contractor in the same way as his or her own employees. The customer is not entitled to issue instructions, may not check qualifications, and is not entitled to regulate health and social insurance issues. Compliance with proper work contract handling is reviewed by the relevant authorities (customs, pension insurance). Breaches of the legal specifications result in significant penalties.

Our actions

Like all companies in food production, we have faced a skills shortage for years. For this reason, we have been aware for a long time that we have to train employees from outside the sector and integrate them into our production processes. We have thus developed several actions to use and integrate employees from outside the industry. We support employees as they integrate into the region and in learning the German language. We are partners with the responsible municipal authorities and points of contact in order to secure good housing conditions for the employees and their families and to support communal advisory services, both financially and with our expertise.

At many sites, Tönnies is in intensive discussion with the responsible persons and committees for the city and municipality. In some locations, it is our aim in the medium term to help ease the market for affordable housing. In doing so, we offer the responsible communities the chance to work with us on a solution to this public task. Tönnies is also open for discussion at any time: if an employee is affected by unsuitable housing, this can be reported to the company via our offer of dialogue. We can also contact the responsible authorities in this regard.

In cooperation with the adult education school and other education providers, Tönnies offers its own employees and employees of service providers the opportunity to attend language courses. In individual courses, employees can learn the language from teachers trained in teaching German as a Foreign Language [Deutsch als Fremdsprache (DaF)]. The company subsidises the courses to develop the language competence of its employees.

In addition to the housing situation, some sites require additional effort for the successful integration of employees into the region and for expansion of the local infrastructure. Tönnies is aware of its responsibility as an employer and supports the relevant communities in areas such as childcare, nursery school placements, school enrolments and medical support.
Sport connects people. BSC Rheda – the company’s sports team – is a good example of successful integration. At the same time, other steps are necessary to help Tönnies employees become part of society. Tönnies constantly maintains contact with regional providers to initiate other offerings in addition to the language courses and make them available to employees.
The welcome agency FARE enables employees at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück site to have a contact point for all questions relating to daily life. Tönnies pays half the costs for equipment and everyday business. The ombudswoman Gudrun Bauer also offers dialogue with the employees on a voluntary basis.

With the Sögeler Weg [Sögel Way] developed since November 2011 at the Sögel production site, Tönnies has, in collaboration with the Samtgemeinde Sögel [Sögel administrative division], the Evangelical and Catholic churches, and the regulatory and social security authorities, developed minimum standards for the remuneration, accommodation and integration of indirect employees.

November 2011

Code of Conduct as per “Sögeler Weg”: Tönnies and the Verband der Fleischwirtschaft [German Meat Association] have developed a code of conduct for the industry based on the Sögeler Weg. It regulates important points relating to living and employment conditions and the integration of indirect employees – the standards for shared accommodation contained therein were determined to be generally valid by the Wohnungsaufsichtsgesetz [Housing Supervisory Law] in North Rhine-Westphalia on 30 April 2014.

July 2014

Introduction of a generally applicable, collectively agreed minimum wage for the abattoir and butchery industry with the Verband der Ernährungswirtschaft [Food Industry Association] and the NGG Union, as well as the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

August 2014

Appointment of former Deputy Mayor Gudrun Bauer (SPD) as the ombudswoman for the entire Rheda-Wiedenbrück region. The goal was to appoint an independent, voluntary contact partner to support Eastern European employees in disputes and formal processes within the company and with administrative offices. With the independent ombudswoman, Tönnies is expanding the range of advisory services for indirect employees.

January 2015

Introduction of a voluntary commitment within the meat industry, namely by Tönnies, other industry players and the food industry associations VdEW, VDG and VdF, to the Federal Ministry of Economics.

July 2016

Since 25 July 2017, Tönnies is, in accordance with the GSA Fleisch [Act on Securing Labour Rights in the Meat Industry] also partly responsible for the proper calculation of working time and social insurance deductions. Tönnies is currently improving systems and processes to check who is working for how long and what wages are due.

July 2017

From 1 January 2018, all employees – both direct and indirect – are entitled to receive a minimum wage of EUR 9.00/hr as per the collective agreement. Since 1 January 2015, the collectively agreed minimum wage is valid in the industry, something that Tönnieshas always called for.

January 2018

Participation in round table for city of Gütersloh to discuss issues of integration and employment.

Summer 2018

Our regional responsibility

Tönnies is active in markets around the world. However as an economic engine and employer, we keep a close eye on the regions in Germany in which our sites are located. Locally it is our top priority to be a good citizen and to fulfil our responsibility as a regional company.

It is important for us that:

  • we are, and remain, a secure and future-proof employer for our employees
  • we work with producers, suppliers and partners from the region wherever possible so that we strengthen the local economic power and become a stronger partner for them
  • we support, and create, new opportunities so that foreign employees, for example, the work contract employees, feel comfortable with their new life when they arrive and can integrate into the community
  • we maintain a good relationship with the residents in the area around our sites so that we can openly discuss the role of our sites and the expectation of residents
  • we are committed to the social development of the region and support existing social institutions as well as clubs that we can participate with
  • we implement climate- and environment-friendly production processes at our sites and use natural resources, for example, water, sparingly

Tönnies works within these areas of activity to actively develop its responsible role as a regional company. It is also important for us to listen to what different stakeholders expect from us and to work out solutions together in the context of politics, the authorities and also citizens.

This is our offer of dialogue with the region.

Our next goals

As an employer we constantly want to develop further. It is our goal to retain our employees and, at the same time, to be an attractive employer for potential trainees.

This includes

  • primarily, the company establishing and further developing its values and corporate culture. We also want to involve our employees more with their ideas and feedback: requirements, problems and ideas should be discussed in a more direct way. The development of the company suggestion process is one example of this.
  • to strengthen employee retention, the HR department are developing working-time models, home-office options, coaching and leave regulations.
  • for the internal security processes, including those for work contract partners, we will soon have a standardised, independent payroll system. The range of language courses for German as a Foreign Language will continue to be expanded.
  • We use a competence analysis to analyse the strengths of our own and external employees, based on which we undertake management development.
  • With the establishment of accommodation checks in shared accommodation, Tönnies also helps to ensure that all work contract employees in shared accommodation live in suitable conditions.

Opinion & Dialogue

Questions on the issues of human resources, employment and working-time models to Jasmin Koch, Human Resources Team, and Martin Bocklage, Human Resources at Tönnies.

Tönnies stands for openness, respect, reliability and fairness. These values are the basis for cooperation in Team Tönnies and should be demonstrated by and towards the employees.

We think that open and respectful conduct between employees from 87 countries is a prerequisite for successful interaction. Of course, you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs; however, it should be possible to discuss the matter fairly. Not only do we adopt our handshake mentality with customers and partners, but it also advocates reliability without a written contract.

There are two key reasons for this: firstly, we want to enable short routes to the farms and thus slaughter the animals in the urban centres of stock farming. However, this commitment to the economic location also means that we need employees in regions in which there is almost full employment. To be able to produce in Germany in spite of this, we focus on the freedom of movement within Europe and obtain employees through service providers. Secondly, in addition to a German employment contract with all rights and obligations, the employees with a work contract can also receive accommodation and transport to work. The service providers are hired with this ‘all-round package’. In a company implementing division of work, the service providers thus have the best prerequisites for finding employees.

Even before the introduction of the statutory minimum wage, Tönnies paid the minimum wage for the meat industry. On average, employees receive between EUR 10 and EUR 11 per hour for basic auxiliary tasks. For trained employees and specialists, the wages naturally increase significantly, depending on their qualifications.
At many of our sites there is a Works Council which represents the interests of the employees, including at our head office in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, in Sögel and also in Weißenfels. Respectful cooperation with employees is important to us and is in line with our understanding of values.

There are two paths for systematic further training. Firstly Tönnies has its own e-learning platform, the Tönnies Academy, where employees can take training courses free of charge. In addition, all employees are offered an individual development programme with language courses or specialist training as required.

Ask us!

Make up your own mind and have your questions answered at first hand. Please ask so that we can give you answers and better understand what is important to you.
Our contact partners Jasmin Koch und Martin Bocklage will answer your relevant questions here. If the content of the questions is the same, we group the answers together.

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Jasmin Koch

Human Resources

Martin Bocklage

Human Resources