Checking Up on Labour Rights: A basic assessment tool for the labour policies and practices of international companies

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Oxfam has prepared this tool in order to help companies (and particularly companies with multi‑national supply chains) assess their current policies and practices in relation to workers
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  Checking up on labour rights A basic assessment tool for the labour policies and practices of international companies Written by Sarah Rennie  illustrations: Antony Kraus  3 Checking up on labour rights A basic assessment tool for the labour policies and practices of international companies Background The United Nations (UN) Framework for Business and Human Rights states that all businesses have a responsibility to respect the human rights of individuals and of the communities impacted by their business operations. As part of this responsibility, businesses must ensure that the women and men employed in their workplaces and supply chains can access their basic employment rights. These rights are contained in International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN human rights conventions, and include the right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining, the right to safe and decent working conditions and the right to a decent wage. International businesses, whose supply chains traverse diverse countries, cultures and legal jurisdictions, need robust systems in place in order to uphold these obligations.Oxfam has prepared this tool in order to help companies (and particularly companies with multi-national supply chains) assess their current policies and practices in relation to workers’ rights. The tool highlights some of the most important elements of responsible labour policy and practice. The tool does not, however, provide a model code of conduct, nor does it provide comprehensive guidelines around how to deal with specific labour problems across complex and diverse supply chains. To access more in-depth information you will find a list of resources at the end of this document. How companies should use the checklist The checklist allows you to respond to each indicator depending on whether you have a policy on the issue, the extent to which that policy is implemented and whether that implementation has been independently verified. This checklist is only useful if it is used honestly; ideally responses to each of the criteria should be supported by credible evidence, including independent audit reports and external reports on company practices. A rigorous assessment process should actively involve workers and their representatives from within your company’s supply chain, as well as independent labour experts with local or sectoral experience. Such an assessment may help your company to identify urgent labour issues and provides a good starting point for inclusive dialogue with other supply chain stakeholders.As mentioned above, this checklist does not contain all the answers, but it will help your company to identify some of the key issues that need to be addressed to ensure it can uphold the human rights of women and men employed in its supply chain.  4 IssueWhy it mattersCompany Policy/ProcedurePolicy exists, implementation in progress (verified in X% of suppliers/supply chain)Policy exists, no systematic implementationNo policy exists, no systematic implementation    S   u   p   p   l   y   c   h   a   i   n   t   r   a   n   s   p   a   r   e   n   c   y Transparency is a crucial first step in ensuring that workers’ rights are upheld. Without key information, such as the names and locations of suppliers, it is very difficult for independent parties to verify supply chain labour conditions. Similarly, without information about company codes of conduct and local labour laws, it is difficult for workers to understand and protect their rights. Information sharing is a pre-requisite to healthy, fair and transparent Your company publishes its labour rights policies and code of conduct for suppliers, based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and core human rights conventions (see list at the end of this document).Workers in your company’s supply chain are made aware of any code of conduct and can access it in their own language.Your company publishes information about how it deals with worker grievances.Your company publishes and regularly updates the names and addresses of its first and second tier supplier factories/entities.Your company records and publishes information about workers including: ã the number of workers in the supply chain,ã the percentage of workers who are employed on short term contracts rather than as permanent employees, ã the number of female workers in the supply chain, ã measures taken to ensure women’s access to employment/positions throughout supply chain including senior positions.Your company publishes the results of its supply chain audits, including gaps in implementation of your code of conduct and any commitments to address them.
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