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International labour standards and corporate social responsibility: Understanding workers' rights in the framework of due diligence


Understanding workers' rights in the framework of due diligence

The course aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to understand the principles of international labour standards (ILS) as they relate to company operations (including due diligence related to labour rights) and how these principles can be most effectively implemented in company operations within the supply chain. 

Drawing on the experience of the ILO Helpdesk for Business, breakout sessions will provide participants with opportunities to discuss and debate some of the complex issues companies face when putting principles into practice, e.g. what to do when national law is not consistent with ILS; how to balance competing rights; where to draw the line in contributing to social development; and what to do when the government is not fulfilling its duty to protect

At the end of the course, participants will:

  • Be familiar with ILO’s core labour standards (child labour, forced labour, discrimination, and freedom of association and collective bargaining), their function and formulation as well as implementation and other relevant ILO tools relevant from a CSR perspective;
  • Be able to analyse international instruments and frameworks on CSR referencing ILS;
  • Understand the different roles of governments, the private sector, and employers’ and workers’ organizations could play in the development and implementation of CSR policies and practices; be updated on company practices selected from a variety of geographical, sectoral and operational contexts;
  • Be able to better advise and serve their institutions, organizations or enterprises in the area of ILS and Decent Work and in their daily operations

Description

Companies are under increasing pressure, stemming from stakeholder expectations, reporting requirements, conditions for tendering, etc., to conduct due diligence on human-rights issues in their own operations and with business partners in their supply chains. Labour rights have become a critical component and basic pillar in any due diligence process. However, proper due diligence on labour issues starts with a good understanding of what is expected of companies concerning respect for workers' rights. The course aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to understand the principles of ILS as they relate to company operations (including due diligence related to labour rights) and how these principles can be most effectively implemented in company operations along their supply chains. Drawing on the experience of the ILO Helpdesk for Business, breakout sessions will provide participants with opportunities to discuss and debate some of the complex issues companies face when putting principles into practice, e.g. what to do when national law is not consistent with ILS; how to balance competing rights; where to draw the line in contributing to social development; and what to do when the government is not fulfilling its duty to protect.

Target audience

This course is designed for CSR professionals (in companies, consulting firms or CSR initiatives) seeking to align operations, including supply chains, with ILS principles or dealing on a daily basis with challenges related to respecting workers' rights. Managers of companies supplying to brands which are faced with many, and often conflicting, demands, may find this course particularly useful. In addition, this course might be of interest to trade unions, civil society organizations and government officials dealing with national CSR policies and/or national action plans on business and human rights.

Background

The course aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to understand the principles of ILS as they relate to company operations (including due diligence related to labour rights) and how those principles can be most effectively implemented in company operations. 

Companies are under increased pressure, stemming from stakeholder expectations, reporting requirements, conditions for tendering, etc., to conduct due diligence on human rights issues in their own operations and with business partners in their supply chains.  Labour related human rights—child labour, forced labour, freedom of association and collective bargaining, non-discrimination, conditions of work and social protection—are relevant to all company operations.  Although much has been written in general about due diligence, labour issues pose particular challenges for companies.

Proper due diligence on labour issues starts with a good understanding of what is expected of companies concerning respect for workers’ rights.  The principles contained in international labour standards (ILS) have become the essential reference point for companies in addressing labour issues in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Yet, ILS are addressed to governments and the implications for companies, from a conceptual and practical point of view, are not always clear. This can lead to confusion, lack of coherence and misunderstandings when companies are confronted with specific situations.  Building on this understanding, the course will then examine good practice regarding due diligence pertaining to workers’ rights. 

Teaching sessions will feature specialists working in companies and multi-stakeholder initiatives located in various regions of the world.  Drawing on the experience of the ILO Helpdesk for Business, breakout sessions will provide participants an opportunity to discuss and debate some of the more complex issues companies face when putting principles into practice such as what to do when national law is not consistent with ILS, how to balance competing rights, where to draw the line is contributing to social development, and what to do when the government is not fulfilling its duty to protect.  The course will also help practitioners anticipate how the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals may impact CSR practice concerning labour rights and enterprise development.

This course is designed for CSR professionals (in companies, consulting firms, CSR initiatives, government, workers, etc.) seeking to align operations, including supply chains, with ILS principles or dealing on a daily basis with challenges related to respecting these ILS principles. Managers of companies supplying to brands who are faced with many, and often conflicting, demands, may find this course particularly useful.  Trade unionists, NGOs and government officials dealing with national CSR policies and/or National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights will also find it beneficial. The course will provide a platform for dialogue and knowledge exchange as well as a forum for interaction and networking with professionals who work on a regular basis on the intersection of human rights, Decent Work, CSR and sustainable development.

 ILO is the specialized agency of the United Nations mandated to adopt and monitor the implementation of International Labour Standards.  Since its inception in 1919, ILO has accumulated a wide range of expertise concerning the application of ILS principles to company and government operations; and regularly analyses international trends and collects company case studies.

Objectives

The course aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to understand the principles of ILS as they relate to company operations and the implications for CSR policies and practices geared towards decent work and sustainable development.

At the end of the course, participants will:

• be familiar with ILO’s core labour standards (child labour, forced labour, discrimination, and freedom of association and collective bargaining), their function and formulation as well as implementation and other relevant ILO tools relevant from a CSR perspective;

• be able to analyse international instruments and frameworks on CSR referencing International Labour Standards;

• understand the different roles of governments, the private sector, and employers’ and workers’ organizations could play in the development and implementation of CSR policies and practices; be updated on company practices, selected from a variety of geographical, sectoral and operational contexts;

• be able to better advise and serve their institutions, organizations or enterprises in the area of ILS and Decent Work and in their daily operations.

 Content

The course is organized around three thematic building blocks:

 1. ILO tools and instruments relevant for Corporate Social Responsibility and due diligence concerning labour rights

 What are the leading instruments of the ILO related to corporate social responsibility?  This building block presents insights on the link between ILO normative instruments—including ILS, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work—and due diligence as set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP).

2. Issues companies encounter and guidance found in the ILS

What are the challenges business encounter with regards to labour rights and CSR? Drawing on the experiences of the ILO Helpdesk for Business, this block sets out a framework for understanding the key ILS principles for each of the topics and the implications for company operations.  Topics include:  freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; industrial relations,  child labour, forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment (including gender); conditions of work (wages, hours of work, occupational safety and health); and employment promotion and training

3. Operationalizing the principles of ILS

What are the challenges of implementing labour-related CSR practices?  This section will focus on experiences of both large and smaller companies in establishing a system for ensuring respect for workers’ rights in their own operations and in promoting respect among their business partners

 

 Format and Methodology

The course will take a highly participatory approach which requires full involvement by all participants and ensures exchange of information and experiences. Besides ILO specialist, expert guest speakers will be drawn from various organizations and UN agencies such as UN Global Compact, BSCI, Ethical Trading Initiative and the Fair Wear Foundation amongst others.

Later Event: September 13
Athens Democracy Forum