Zero Tolerance Issues and Protocol agreed to between the [Ministry of Labour] and the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Better Work Programme (Better Work)
Better Work Enterprise Advisors may uncover serious rights violations when undertaking factory visits for either assessment or advisory purposes. In general, Better Work staff hold information learned through factory visits confidential, and only share information in line with the Memorandum of Understanding agreed by Better Work and participating factories. However, immediate action must be taken where critical issues, or circumstances that pose an imminent and significant threat to worker health and safety, are found. This note defines which issues will be considered zero tolerance and identifies the procedures that Better Work staff will take when such issues are suspected and/or detected with regard to a participating factory.
Definition of Zero Tolerance Issues
Better Work will consider human rights violations, including child labour, forced labour, sexual violence, and issues that pose an imminent threat to worker health and safety to be zero tolerance issues. In particular, suspected non-compliance on the following issues from the Compliance Assessment Tool will trigger the protocol identified below:
- Workers under the age of 15 (or the minimum age of the country)
- Workers under age 18 subjected to worst forms of child labour (forced labour, prostitution, pornography and illegal activities)
- Not allowing workers to leave the workplace at all times, including during overtime in order to force them to work against their will
- Use of violence or the threat of violence to intimidate workers and force them to work
- Sexual violence or imminent threat of sexual violence
Occupational Health and Safety (OSH)
- Punishment of workers who remove themselves from work situations they believe present an imminent and serious danger to life or health
- OSH violations that pose an imminent and significant threat to worker health and safety.
Freedom of Association (FOA)
- Egregious violations of freedom of association may be determined by Better Work Programme Manager to constitute a zero tolerance issue.
This protocol also applies if any of the above conditions are found in employer-provided housing that is checked as part of a factory visit.
Protocol when Zero Tolerance Issues are Identified
- Enterprise Advisors will immediately report directly to the Better Work Programme Manager any violations or suspected violations of the zero tolerance issues identified above, which they may find while undertaking factory visits. In the event that Enterprise Advisors identify victims of sexual violence, they inform the victims of their options to seek assistance and provide referral information.
- If the Better Work Programme Manager considers that a violation has occurred, s/he will, within 48 hours, inform the Ministry of Labour (MOL) in writing of the violation. Instances of sexual violence and the identity of victims of sexual violence are disclosed only upon their request.
- The MOL will initiate investigations into the matter within 48 hours of being informed to determine whether a violation has occurred.
- The Better Work Programme Manager will follow up with the MOL within 72 hours of informing the MOL of the violation to agree on an action plan. Action Plans will vary dependent on the violation identified and the underlying circumstances, but always include both investigation and remediation. In situations involving possible criminal violations, MOL coordinates with other appropriate governmental authorities.
- Following the initial investigation, the Better Work Programme Manager will agree with the MOL on the remediation approach. Remediation Approaches vary depending on the violation identified and the underlying circumstances. See Annexes for examples of recommended remediation approaches:a. Annex 1: Recommended approach for remediating cases of underage workers
b. Annex 2: Recommended approach for remediating issues relating to forced labour
c. Annex 3: Recommended approach for remediating sexual violence
d. Annex 4: Recommended approach for remediating Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
- Throughout the investigation and remediation efforts, the well-being of the victim(s) of the violation is safeguarded and any action taken must not in any way place the victim in any further danger or make him or her vulnerable to any retribution.
- The MOL will inform Better Work in writing of the findings of the investigation and the outcome of the remediation.
- The Ministry of Labour will not disclose information provided to it by Better Work in connection with this Protocol, or disclose information collected in connection with the implementation of the Protocol to parties other than Better Work beyond that necessary to implement the Protocol, including carrying out appropriate remediation.
Note: The timeframes stated represent the maximum time frame for action. Where necessary, actions will be completed sooner.
Protocol with Buyers
- Better Work will notify all buyers subscribing to the factory at which the violation took place within 48 hours of identifying the issue. Instances of sexual violence and the identity of victims of sexual violence are disclosed only upon their request.
- Better Work will notify all buyers subscribing to the factory of the action plan with the Ministry of Labour, within 24 hours of agreeing it with the Ministry.
- Better Work will seek to involve buyers in remediation efforts, where appropriate, and will keep buyers regularly updated throughout remediation efforts.
- Better Work will notify all buyers subscribing to the factory and seek their active support, if at any point during remediation efforts the factory is not cooperating or making progress.
Nothing in this zero tolerance protocol or relating thereto shall be construed as constituting a waiver of the privileges and immunities of the ILO.
Ministry of Labour representative Better Work representative