Checking up on labour rights
A basic assessment tool for the labour policiesand practices of international companies
The United Nations (UN) Framework for Businessand Human Rights states that all businesses have aresponsibility to respect the human rights of individualsand of the communities impacted by their businessoperations. As part of this responsibility, businessesmust ensure that the women and men employed intheir workplaces and supply chains can access theirbasic employment rights. These rights are contained inInternational Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN humanrights conventions, and include the right to form unionsand engage in collective bargaining, the right to safeand decent working conditions and the right to adecent wage. International businesses, whose supplychains traverse diverse countries, cultures and legaljurisdictions, need robust systems in place in order touphold these obligations.Oxfam has prepared this tool in order to help companies(and particularly companies with multi‑national supplychains) assess their current policies and practices inrelation to workers’ rights. The tool highlights some ofthe most important elements of responsible labour policyand practice. The tool does not, however, provide a modelcode of conduct, nor does it provide comprehensiveguidelines around how to deal with specific labourproblems across complex and diverse supply chains.To access more in‑depth information you will find a listof resources at the end of this document.
How companies should use the checklist
The checklist allows you to respond to each indicatordepending on whether you have a policy on the issue,the extent to which that policy is implemented andwhether that implementation has been independentlyverified. This checklist is only useful if it is used honestly;ideally responses to each of the criteria should besupported by credible evidence, including independentaudit reports and external reports on company practices.A rigorous assessment process should actively involveworkers and their representatives from within yourcompany’s supply chain, as well as independent labourexperts with local or sectoral experience. Such anassessment may help your company to identify urgentlabour issues and provides a good starting point forinclusive dialogue with other supply chain stakeholders.As mentioned above, this checklist does not contain allthe answers, but it will help your company to identifysome of the key issues that need to be addressed toensure it can uphold the human rights of women andmen employed in its supply chain.