Promoting respect for labour rights is core to the work of the United Nations Global Compact. Respect for workers’ rights and compliance with labour standards are the foundation of decent work. Despite progress, decent work deficits remain alarmingly widespread. Advancing decent work and raising the living standards of all workers across operations and supply chains require all companies to adopt sustainable, responsible and inclusive workplace practices, and for companies with supply chains to use their leverage with suppliers to contribute to the realization of decent work globally.
- Almost one in ten children are subject to child labour., or 160 million children globally, a number that has risen for the first time in two decades
- 24.9 million people are trapped in forced labour
- More than 630 million workers worldwide – that is, almost one in five, or 19%, of all those employed – did not earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of extreme or moderate poverty
- Each day 7,500 people die from unsafe and unhealthy working conditions
- 74% of countries exclude workers from the right to establish and join a trade union, while 79% of countries violate the right to collective bargaining, and 64 countries deny or constrain freedom of speech and assembly
- Hundreds of millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work because of their skin colour, ethnicity or social origin, religion or political beliefs, age, gender, sexual identity or orientation, disability or because of their HIV status
Advancing decent work means that companies respect workers' rights and take action to improve working conditions for all workers engaged in their operations. This includes that companies should take action to adopt sustainable procurement, provide and promote living wages in their own operations and throughout their value chains, adopt sound occupational safety and health practices, and take action to eliminate child labour and forced labour.
The UN Global Compact provides guidance and support to strengthen business respect for labour standards by embedding and implementing the UN Global Compact labour principles (Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6) within all aspects of business operations to provide and promote decent work for all workers. Decent work involves employment that is productive and delivers a fair income. It also should ensure workplace security, social protection, better prospects for personal development and social integration. Businesses should also focus on non-discrimination, equal opportunities and treatment (including for men and women), and freedom to express workplace concerns.
Practices that demonstrate respect for workers’ human rights and labour rights are part of business responsibility. Companies are under increasing pressure 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 crucial pillar of any due diligence process.
Companies can demonstrate respect for labour rights and advance decent work by making ambitious commitments to improve the lives of workers and taking action to translate policies into practices, including in their supply chains. Companies need to step up their due diligence on human rights to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for all adverse Impacts on workers in their operations and value chains, which will help tackle human rights and labour rights issues as well as decent work deficits.
Ways to Engage
- UN Global Compact Leaders Summit
- Global Conference on Child Labour
- Guidance Tools and Resources
- Academy Accelerators Global Peer Learning Group on Human Rights and Labour
- Local Peer Learning Groups
- Pledge to Eliminate Child Labour
- Think Lab on Living Wage
- Commit to Pay 100% of Your Employees a Living Wage
- Communicate Your Progress in Upholding the Four Labour Principles Using the CoP