An Introduction to the Fair Hiring Toolkit for Fair Labor Advocates and Labor Unionists

What can nonprofits and labor unions do?

Promote dialogue and awareness

In this Fair Hiring Toolkit, labor rights advocates and unionists will find material that can be used in advocacy and campaigns, and promoting dialogue and awareness, whether this is done with brands or suppliers. You will find tools that can help you:

  • Develop communications and advocacy materials on the issue of forced labor;
  • Clearly identify practical steps to action for business;
  • Design content for training and awareness raising events; and
  • Support policy development and implementation by companies.

Whether the focus of your work is advocacy and campaigns, or dialogue, partnership and service provision, the Fair Hiring Toolkit can help you in your engagement of business against the trafficking of migrant workers.

Verité also offers the following questions that labor rights advocates and unionists can consider in evaluating their own approaches to issues of forced labor and human trafficking in global supply chains.

Key Questions for Labor Rights Advocates and Labor Unionists
Globally, migrant workers hired to work away from their homes by third-party labor recruiters are promised great financial gains and routinely victimized. These workers are deceived and abused not only by the recruiters that place them in jobs, but by the factory managers who do not provide them with adequate wages or safe working conditions, and by legal systems that discriminate against them.

Labor rights advocates and trade unionists can help lead the way to ending exploitative hiring practices by asking the following questions:

1. In your attempts to prevent slavery and trafficking, have you considered the role of labor recruitment practices as a root cause?

2. Do you know that a key mechanism of forced labor is debt obligation owed by workers to labor recruiters or their loan agents?

3. Did you know that labor recruiters often have more control over the movement of workers than employers themselves?

4. Do you realize that a high percentage of foreign workers were promised a salary and working conditions that bear little resemblance to what the worker finds upon arrival at the worksite?

5. In your outreach to brands to ensure they have no slavery in their supply chain, do you ask them about hiring practices?

6. Have you advocated to governments to reform their policies and oversight of labor recruiters?

Below is a list of tools within the Fair Hiring Toolkit that we gathered for their relevance to Labor Rights Advocates and Labor Unionists

BRANDS AND SUPPLIERS – IMPROVING CODES OF CONDUCT AND COMPANY POLICIES

High level corporate policies or code-of-conduct language on forced labor, human trafficking and the vulnerabilities of migrant workers is a critical first step for companies in addressing these risks in global supply chains. However, most codes of conduct – including those developed by multi-stakeholder initiatives – do not address these risks in the detail they require.

To address this weakness, the Fair Hiring Toolkit provides guidance to brands and suppliers on improving their codes of conduct and strengthening their supply chain policies.

Labor rights advocates can use these tools in their outreach to brands and supply chain actors to support policy improvements and advocate on behalf of migrant workers. The tools provide substantive guidance with which to lobby for improvements to codes of conduct; and lay out a framework for analyzing the content of codes and their coverage of migrant worker issues. The benchmarking tool can also be used to identify what good practice for brands and suppliers could look like.

Sample Code of Conduct Provisions
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This tool is designed to provide brands and suppliers with sample code-of-conduct language to develop, revise and, thus, strengthen corporate and supply chain policies prohibiting forced labor and human trafficking, and setting out clear protections for migrant workers. It recommends strong, comprehensive and explicit provisions on issues ranging from recruitment fees and document retention to freedom of movement and deception in wage payments.
Sample Benchmarks of Good Practice in Recruitment and Hiring
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These benchmarks are aligned with the sample code provisions developed for brands and suppliers. They can be used to measure and evaluate performance against policy provisions and as an indicator of good practice. They can also be integrated into assessment or auditing protocols to establish a framework for supply chain monitoring.

BRANDS AND SUPPLIERS – RAISING AWARENESS AND BUILDING CAPACITY

Brand policies and supply chain codes cannot be effectively implemented unless the issues they address are fully understood by management and staff. A company that is well-trained and informed will be in a strong position to successfully translate new policies into effective and sustainable practice.

Awareness raising and capacity building are among the key strategies used by companies to implement their codes of conduct. The Fair Hiring Toolkit supports these efforts by providing two tools – featured in both the Brand and Supplier sections – that help brands and suppliers better understand the risks they face and the particular vulnerabilities of migrant workers. These tools include a set of “red flags” that identify common forms of abuse and deception in recruitment, and an introduction to recruiter-induced exploitation covering the salient points for business.

These tools can be used effectively by labor rights advocates in their campaigning to raise public awareness, or integrated into outreach programs targeting specific brands. For those groups that provide training or awareness raising events for business, these tools can be integrated into existing resources or cited as reference material.

What Should You Look For? Identifying Brand Risk and Vulnerability to Human Trafficking and Forced Labor of Migrant Workers
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This tool provides a complete set of indicators or “red flags” of recruiter-induced forced labor. It translates Verité’s global research on human trafficking into a clearly defined set of problems that brands should be aware of and civil society groups should be on the look out for. These are common forms of abuse that face migrant workers in the global economy and that may indicate or enable conditions of trafficking for forced labor.
Understanding Recruiter-Induced Forced Labor
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To tackle this issue effectively, brands and other supply chain actors need to fully understand the complexities of recruiter-induced forced labor. This tool addresses this need by providing an introduction that highlight the:
  • Global scope of the problem;
  • Internationally-agreed definitions of forced labor and human trafficking;
  • Respective roles of recruiters and employers in driving or exacerbating abuse; and
  • Case for taking action and establishing rigorous protections for migrant workers.

BRANDS AND SUPPLIERS – TAKING CORRECTIVE ACTION

A suspected case of forced labor in the supply chain must be dealt with immediately, firmly and comprehensively; and the response must consider the needs and well-being of the affected worker(s) first and foremost. Corrective action should provide for the full protection of the worker, and measures should be taken to support their rehabilitation (including physical and mental health), their repatriation (if desired by the worker), and their reintegration into the labor market and community.

Corrective action is the most important element of a brand’s or supplier’s engagement against the trafficking of migrant workers, if it is discovered in the supply chain. This is the action – when implemented correctly – that will lead to changes in the workplace, redress the wrongs experienced by workers, and effectively improve recruitment and hiring conditions.

It is also important to recognize that many companies may have the means and mechanisms to respond and react to non-conformance issues surfaced during social audits, but they may not be well-positioned to anticipate and avoid these problems in the first place, or to prevent them from happening again. Facility audits have shown that social responsibility problems tend to persist when remedial or corrective actions are either poorly maintained or are not implemented at all. Developing a systems improvement plan that includes corrective and preventive measures helps brands and their suppliers to take both effective action against and proactively prevent practices that can lead to trafficking or forced labor for migrant workers.

The Fair Hiring Toolkit provides brands and suppliers with two tools to support the implementation of effective corrective action and systems improvement strategies: first, a guide to corrective action and systems improvement planning; and second, a step-by-step narrative of how to develop strategies for these activities. These tools can be used by civil society and labor rights groups to advocate for better, more systematic and comprehensive improvement strategies; and the good practice examples included can be integrated into training and awareness raising programs.

A Guide to Corrective Action and Systems Improvement Planning
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Corrective action strategies and programs need to be comprehensive and systematic, involving shorter and longer term engagement. They should involve the brand, supplier and recruiter concerned, and ensure that the needs and well-being of the trafficked worker(s) are fully and immediately met. This tool provides companies with a broad guide to developing effective remediation strategies. It includes examples of good practice that illustrate its recommendations.
Developing a Strategy for Corrective Action and Systems Improvement Planning
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This tool sets out the key steps brands and suppliers should take in developing and implementing a corrective action plan to addresses cases of forced labor discovered in the supply chain. It recommends adopting a clear, step-by-step approach involving an analysis of the problem, identification of root causes, brainstorming possible changes and improvements, and developing a plan for implementing those changes.