Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


EU seeks to engage business on CSR with guide on trade union rights and child labour

March 2013

The right to join a trade union and conduct collective bargaining are the main features of an EU draft guide to human rights in business and now out for public consultation.

One of the other primary subjects covered by the draft, which is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, is the outlawing of child labour.

The draft proposes that employers monitor their performance on protecting labour rights by working with global trade unions.

The European Commission (EC) says: “In recent years, human rights have become an increasingly important aspect of CSR.

“The EC’s new policy on CSR recognises the need for enterprises to integrate human rights concerns in their operations and business strategies.”

The document, says the EC, is intended to be “practical, useful guidance for businesses on implementing the Guiding Principles”.  

But the Commission also emphasises: “While the guidance takes particular account of the situation and experiences of EU business, it aims to be as globally relevant as possible – informed by research and the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including expert representatives from business, trade unions, NGOs and government.”

The project concentrates on three business sectors: employment and recruitment; information technology and telecommunications; and oil and gas.

Significantly, the eventual guide will be aimed at businesses of all types and sizes. A report – financed by the EC and prepared by the sustainability consultancy Global CSR and BBI International, the publisher and events organiser – emphasises: “Just because you are a small business does not mean that you face no human rights risks.”

The guide is expected to be ready by the end of next month. Observance will be voluntary, not legally binding.

EC | Europe | Human rights


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