Lek among first companies in Slovenia to receive Family-Friendly Company certificate

14. 5. 2007

Ljubljana, May 14, 2007 – On the day before International Day of the Family, Minister of Labor, Family and Social Affairs Marjeta Cotman together with the Young Mothers/Family-Friendly Employment development partnership awarded the first Family-Friendly Company certificates at a ceremony at the Cankarjev dom congress center. Lek was among the 33 organizations which joined the certification process in the autumn of 2006 (for formal reasons 32 certificates will be awarded).

In the certification process the companies chose between 110 measures which make it easier to balance family life and work, divided into 8 subcategories: work time, work organization, job, information and communications policy, leadership skills, human resources development, payment structure, performance bonuses and family services. Companies have to commit to the implementation of at least three of the measures from the catalog in order to receive the basic certificate.

The companies which received certificates selected a total of 305 measures for balancing family and work, or an average of 9.5 measures per organization. The most commonly selected measures were in the fields of information and communications policy (109), work time (60) and human resources development (38), while the lowest figures were in family services (10). The companies committed themselves to applying the selected measures in organizational practice within three years.

Lek proposals for new measures for an even more family-friendly company

As part of the “Family-Friendly Company” campaign, we will be introducing some new measures which will further contribute to balancing work and personal life especially for young mothers and families. The opinions of employees and their actual needs are very important for determining the correct selection of measures, so we will be asking you about your wants and needs.

Fixed schedule with choice of start time
We are aware that a lot of employees have other obligations before coming to work, such as driving children to daycare or school, so we will to the time when it is possible. This will allow employees with small children to manage their time more easily and to take care of their loved ones.

Time accounts
The purpose of this measure is to make it possible for employees by agreement with management to use extra work hours as vacation time without coming to work. It will be necessary to apply preferential use of extra work hours (introducing children to daycare, caring for sick family members etc.)

Family services
Every year parents have to face the problem of where to send their children on holiday. Therefore Lek will be organizing supervision with the possibility of additional activities for children of employees during the holidays. For the various families we will attempt to achieve conditions that are affordable for the children of employees. This will make it easier for parents to include their children in extracurricular activities and make every holiday a little bit easier.

“Soft skills”
In order to develop social skills and sensitivity among the management, who are a very important factor in company relations, Lek will be holding training in “soft skills”. Social skills will also be a main element in the selection and promotion of personnel.

Human resources development
Since we also want to inform the general public of our active role in our social responsibility to our employees, we will advertise using the slogan: “An Equal Opportunity Employer”. This will improve the company’s reputation and spread the values of a family-friendly company outside of our organization.

Care for loved ones
When employees are burdened with caring for a loved one, we at Lek will offer a range of selected services. The goal of this assistance in caring for a family member or loved one is to reduce the burden on employees and allow them to more easily organize additional activities in caring for loved ones.

Providing information It is important that employees are well informed about what they can expect when balancing their family lives and careers. Therefore in the future we will set up a new column on the intranet on the family-friendly company; we will include balancing family lives and careers on the agendas of working meetings of the Workers’ Council, Trade Union and workers’ assemblies; and we will appoint an administrator for balancing family lives and careers, etc. In addition we will hold open house days so that employees’ partners will get to know their partners’ work environment, and hold special company presentations at them. We will also inform the general public and our business partners about this topic and about good practice at Lek.

Development of family-oriented work environment has positive effects

“Parenthood is seen as a personal experience, a private problem which parents have to solve for themselves in order to work effectively,” concludes Dr. Nada Stropnik of the Economic Research Institute.

At the development partnership they have found that the development of a family-oriented work environment has very positive effects: increased dedication to work, increased efficiency, reduced absenteeism, greater loyalty and lower fluctuation. On the other hand, failure to accommodate the realities of families and increased pressures in companies leads to direct costs: work avoidance, fast job turnover, poorer use of time, lower quality of work, accidents, employee dissatisfaction, reduced company loyalty and poor interpersonal relations.

Satisfaction with employer response

“Thirty-three companies have joined the certification process in Slovenia in the first year, which is much more than the first year in Germany and Austria, where ten companies a year joined the process in the first two years. In comparison, the response in Slovenia has been enormous. What can we ascribe this to? On one hand the introduction of the certificate in Slovenia was conducted very professionally and efficiently, both from the communications aspect and the professional support aspect. On the other hand all the social partners supported the introduction of the certificate.

The timing of the introduction was also right, since there is increasing awareness in Slovene society of the problem of balancing family and professional life. Above all it showed that a large number of Slovene companies and organizations care about their employees. Some employers are aware that the global economic environment is no longer the most favorable for employees, and they are prepared to make that environment friendlier on their own account. They are still trying to put the employee at the center, although on different foundations than before – on the basis of social responsibility to employees. And there are obviously more of these types of companies in Slovenia than in countries with a longer market economy tradition, and more than in transition countries as well. We only hope that it will remain that way,” said head of certification Aleš Kranjc Kušlan of the Ekvilib Institute.

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Lek, a Sandoz company, is one of the pillars of leading world generics company Sandoz. It operates as a global development center for products and technologies, as a global manufacturing center for active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines, as a competence center for the development of vertically integrated products, as a Sandoz competence center in the field of development and manufacturing of biopharmaceutical products and as a supply center for the markets of CEE, SEE and CIS, sales Slovenia and sales services for Sandoz’s global markets. Lek d.d. employs about 2,820 people and achieved total sales of USD 904 million in 2006. For further information please consult http://www.lek.si

Sandoz, a Division of the Novartis group, is a global leader in the field of generic pharmaceuticals, offering a wide array of high-quality, affordable products that are no longer protected by patents. Sandoz has a portfolio of more than 840 active substances in over 5 000 forms worldwide. Key product groups include antibiotics, treatments for central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal medicines, cardiovascular treatments and hormone therapies. Sandoz develops, produces and markets these drugs along with pharmaceutical and biotechnological active substances and anti-infectives. In addition to the strong organic growth in recent years, Sandoz has made a series of acquisitions including Lek (Slovenia), Sabex (Canada), Hexal (Germany) and EonLabs (U.S.) and sells its products in more than 110 countries. In 2006, Sandoz employed around 21,000 people worldwide and posted sales of USD 6 billion.

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, cure disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in both patented and generic pharmaceuticals. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics and leading self-medication OTC brands. In 2006, the Group’s businesses achieved net sales of USD 37.0 billion and net income of USD 7.2 billion. Approximately USD 5.4 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 101,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

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This press release contains statements and conclusions based on projections of Lek’s future business operations. These estimates are derived from the best information currently available. In case these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results could prove different from those projected.

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For further information contact:

Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški

Corporate Communications

Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d.

Phone: + 386 1 580 22 43

Fax: + 386 1 580 24 32