The first comprehensive study analysing migrant workers' access to justice in their country of origin.  

Using the case study of...

Corporate Efforts

Some companies have taken notable steps to combat abusive recruitment practices. Do you know of other corporate efforts that promote responsible recruitment? Please let us know.

Apple

Arcadia

Archer Daniels Midland

The Coca-Cola Company

Gap

Hewlett-Packard

Nike

Next

Walmart

Apple

Apple has taken a number of significant steps in its supply chain to promote fair recruitment and hiring. In an effort to prevent underage labor, the company developed a guidebook and supplier training program on assessing recruitment practices of third-party labor providers. Training is supported by assessments of internal and external risk and action planning to revise policies and procedures, where necessary. At-risk suppliers are offered guidance on identifying and working with responsible recruiters, including conducting regular audits of recruitment practices and reporting violations to local government and to Apple. The company has also tackled the problem of excessive recruitment fees and worker debt, a condition that Apple considers bonded labor. When violations are found, suppliers must reimburse all fees higher than the equivalent of one month’s net wages. Apple’s “bonded labor audits” target suppliers in countries that are more likely to employ foreign contract workers. According to a 2013 report, suppliers have reimbursed over US $13 million to contract workers since 2008. Learn more.  

Arcadia

Arcadia is a UK-based retail group that includes brands such as Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Burton. In recent years, it has focused on vulnerable workers in its supply chain, including migrant and contract workers, with the aim of improving recruitment and employment conditions. Working with Next Plc, Arcadia implements supplier training and pilot programs to provide guidance on employment contracts, recruitment practices, wage payments and other key issues. It developed its Migrant Worker Guidelines as part of its Code of Conduct Guidebook with the aim of identifying best practice on managing migrant and contract labor. As a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, Arcadia Group has also been active in addressing concerns about exploitation related to the Sumangali scheme in India. Learn more

Archer Daniels Midland

Archer Daniels Midland, major agricultural processor with facilities around the world, recently adopted a Respect for Human Rights statement. The statement was created after a shareholder resolution requested a comprehensive sustainable agriculture policy that included both environmental protections as well as protections for the human rights of workers throughout the supply chain. The company engaged in consultations with members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to create the statement.  The Respect for Human Rights statement includes a no fee policy, it prohibits employers from withholding “money, identification or other personal belongings” with out the workers’ consent, it protects workers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and it ensures land-tenure rights and the rights of indigenous and local communities. Learn More

The Coca-Cola Company

In early 2014, The Coca-Cola Company published a Human and Workplace Rights Issue Guidance that is guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.  The document outlines the company’s Human Rights Statement, Workplace Rights and Global Mutual Respect Policies, Supplier Guiding Principles, and details specific issue guidance, including Migrant Worker Recruitment and Employment Practices.  In regards to migrant worker recruitment and employment practices, The Coca-Cola Company requires that employment contracts clearly state the employee's rights and responsibilities in a language that the employee understands, including contract duration, wage rate, legal overtime maximums, benefits, deductions, living conditions, and termination policy. The Company also requires the employer to pay all fees associated with recruiment, the renewal of documents, and transportation.  In addition, employees must have complete control over their finances and personal identity documents, with access to lock boxes. These policies apply to operations through out The Coca-Cola Company’s supply chain. Learn More

Gap

Gap has a number of programs in India designed to combat child labor, human trafficking and the Sumangali scheme. One of these programs, focused on preventing child trafficking in Gap’s handwork supply chain, addresses the risks associated with complex subcontracting. Gap limits subcontracting in its supply chain and asks vendors to increase transparency about sub-contracted handwork. The company regularly monitors subcontractor sites, including randomly selected homes where much of the work is done. With help from NGOs, Gap has also established handwork centers. Another important issue Gap is addressing is the use of the Sumangali trafficking scheme of young women in Southern India. Gap helped establish an industry working group through the Ethical Trading Initiative and organized a meeting with members of the Brands Ethical Working Group and the Tirupur Exporters’ Association, which established the Tirupur Stakeholders Forum (TSF). TSF has since agreed on guidelines to help factories evaluate their employment practices and eliminate those that are unacceptable. These guidelines are intended to be adopted by local NGOs, industry representatives, and trade unions. Learn more

Hewlett-Packard (HP)

In November 2014, HP released the HP Foreign Migrant Worker Standard, developed in consultation with Verité, which requires direct employment of foreign migrant workers throughout HP’s supply chain, making it the first IT company to do so.  Dan Viederman, CEO of Verité, explains that “HP’s standard requiring direct hiring will remove a key obstacle to ethical treatment of migrant workers. The standard sets a new bar and will likely result in substantial financial benefit to foreign migrant workers in HP’s supply chain, and we hope other companies will adopt similar policies.” HP’s standard also eliminates worker-paid recruitment fees and includes requirements on the retention of worker identity documents. The Standards is part of HP’s Supplier Code of Conduct and their Supply Chain Responsibility (SCR) program. The company will reinforce the implementation of this standard with specialized forced labor audits and regular monitoring. Learn More.

Nike

In July 2008, an investigative media report alleged poor working and living conditions facing migrant workers in a Nike-contracted apparel factory in Malaysia. These conditions included excessive recruitment fees, passport retention, contract deception and overcrowding and unhygienic living quarters. Nike investigated the allegations, announced that the factory would reimburse migrant workers and promised that all future fees would be paid by the factory. Nike also ordered that workers be moved into approved housing within 30 days and that the factory owners give workers immediate access to their passports. The company also set up a 24 hour hotline in case access to passports was ever denied and established a partnership with local NGO Tenaganita to implement training programs on migrant worker rights for all Nike supplier factories. Learn more.

Next

Next has pioneered supply chain collaboration to promote responsible recruitment of migrant and home workers. In recent years, it has worked with peer brands, national and international retailers, civil society groups and international organizations. Together with Arcadia Group, Next developed migrant worker guidelines that set out expectations for suppliers on all aspects of migrant work, from sending country recruitment, employment, contract completion to safe return. It works with suppliers to help them identify reputable recruitment agencies, conduct due diligence to ensure that workers were treated fairly and implement annual assessments of agencies against the Next code of conduct. As part of broader supply chain measures, Next also leads annual training on ILO core labor standards and regularly participates in expert consultations on the relationship between business and human rights. Learn more

Walmart

Walmart has partnered with Verité and the Manpower Group to pilot the Ethical Framework for International Labor Recruitment. Key Walmart suppliers in the US are working with Verité to implement operational standards of responsible recruitment for labor providers operating across international borders. The company has also increased its focus on US-based agriculture and aquaculture sourcing, implementing education and training programs to enable suppliers to meet ethical sourcing expectations, including anti-trafficking measures and protections for migrant workers. Walmart has also partnered with the United Nations Inter-Agency Project (UNIAP) on human trafficking in Thailand, co-convening an expert consultation on labor exploitation in the seafood industry, including recruitment abuses faced by labor migrants. In India, the company supported the development of industry guidelines to address the Sumangali scheme, a practice involving the payment of lump-sum dowry money to young female workers at the end of two- to three-year contracts in exchange for continuous employment. The practice places workers in extreme vulnerability to forced labor. Guidance focused on ethical recruitment and employment, training for employees, working hours, payment of wages and recommendations for safe and appropriate living conditions in hostels. Learn more.

 

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