ALL BUSINESS SHOULD: Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers
“Pay our parents adequately so that children do not have to drop out of school.”
13-year old boy from India, ‘Children’s Participation in CSR’, 2010, Save the Children.
The corporate responsibility to respect includes:
- Providing decent work for young workers
Respect the rights of children above the minimum age for work, and promote social dialogue and rights at work, provision of safe working conditions, protection from abuse and exploitation, and access to gender-appropriate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
- Being responsive to the vulnerability of young workers above the minimum age for work
- All business should adopt and endorse, at the highest level, their policy commitment regarding the rights of children and of young workers, including their right to be protected from violence and abuse. The policy should protect children above the minimum age for regular work from hazardous work: it should consider, among other things, limits to hours of work; restrictions on work at dangerous heights,as well as work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools; the transport of heavy loads; exposure to hazardous substances or processes, and difficult conditions such as work at night or work where the young worker is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer. Responsibility for implementing this policy must be mainstreamed and shared by management, although the business may choose to allocate specific managerial responsibility for supervising its implementation.
- Business policies on harassment should pay attention to the vulnerability of young workers. These policies should be enforced consistently and employees and others on company premises should receive training on them. Grievance mechanisms should be effective and also accessible to young workers.
- Business may require management and encourage trade unions and their elected representatives to pay special attention to protecting the rights of young workers. Trade unions may decide to elect young worker representatives/stewards to monitor working conditions of youth; this is a matter for the autonomous decision of the trade union concerned.
The corporate commitment to support includes:
- Providing decent work for young workers
Promote decent work opportunities for young workers, including age-appropriate social protection and health information and services. Quality education and relevant vocational training and livelihood development programmes are of particular importance, as is the opportunity to earn a living.
- Providing decent working conditions that support workers, both women and men, in their roles as parents or caregivers
Beyond legal compliance, pay particular attention to working conditions such as the payment of a living wage, length and flexibility of working hours, provisions for pregnant and breastfeeding women, need for parental leave, supporting migrant and seasonal workers with distance parenting, and facilitating access to good quality childcare, health care and education for dependants.
GOOD PRACTICE: Supporting migrant workers with distance parenting
A multinational company based in the United Kingdom partnered with a Chinese women’s NGO in 2009 to provide assistance to the children left behind by migrant worker parents in 10 provinces of China. The initiative is expected to benefit around 600,000 families. Under the programme, parent-to-child telephone cards, known as ‘love cards’ are issued, to facilitate regular communication between migrant workers and their children and families. The programme also provides practical guidance to the families and children who are left at home while parents migrate from rural to urban China for work. Statistics show that there are 58 million children left behind within the country, which accounts for 30 per cent of the total number of children in rural China. More than 40 million of these children are less than 14 years old.
For further guidance, see International Labour Organization ‘R190 Worst Forms of Child Labour Recommendation’, 1999, available at http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/convde.pl?R190