Free guides help firms tackle child labour and slavery

Two free guides have been released to help firms address the risk of child labour and modern slavery in supply chains.

The guides, from the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), advise companies how to develop a deeper understanding of key concepts and legal responsibilities.

The first manual lists tools, tips and techniques for reducing and mitigating child labour risk in four stages.

Companies are told how to:

• Assess the actual and potential risk of child labour in their organisations.

• Identify their corporate leverage and responsibility – and the decision-making and actions that are necessary.

• Mitigate risk and take action where violations of standards are found.

• Monitor implementation of these policies to ensure the best interests of children are at the forefront of any action taken.

The second manual advises companies negotiating with suppliers to set clear red lines that are consistent with the highest international standards.

Warning signs companies should be on the look out for among suppliers include retention of identity papers, withholding wages, abusive living and working conditions and restriction of movement.

While the presence of just one of these indicators does not indicate that slavery is taking place, the presence of several usually does, said the ETI.

ETI spokesperson Cindy Berman said: “Not only is modern slavery a predominantly business issue, but companies recognise it as such. Well over three quarters believe that there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring in their supply chains.”

Concerning child labour, Berman said: “Understanding and addressing child labour can be a minefield for companies.

“Universally agreed and legally binding rights of the child are enshrined by the UN. Yet, while international standards are clear the reality in countries is too often different.”

The age that a child can officially start working full time may be as young as 14, or 13 for part time work, depending on the country.

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