The Ethical Trading Initiative releases two guides to help businesses tackle child labour and modern slavery

imgworld-day-against-child-labour-2016The free guides aim to advise businesses on the key concepts of modern slavery and their legal obligations regarding the issue.

The first guide focuses on child labour issues. With the International Labour Organisation estimating that 211 million children under 15 are child labourers, with 73 million of them being aged 10 or under and a further 8.4 million trapped in slavery, trafficking or debt bondage; the issue is critical both ethically and legally. Many child labourers work in export-orientated industries such as manufacturing, quarries or gemstone extraction, often in unsafe conditions with minimal respects for the rights of the child. Businesses are guided through forming assessments of the actual and potential risks of child labour within their companies, how to identify their corporate responsibility, how to take action if violations are discovered and how to apply monitor these policies to ensure that the rights of the child and child protection are at the forefront of any action taken.

The second guide focuses on advising companies and organisations regarding modern slavery in supply chains. Estimates vary, but it is believed at least 21 million people, including 5.5 million children, live in slavery according to the International Labour Organisation; whilst other organisations estimate the number to be nearer 46 million (Global Slavery Index). Slavery may take many forms, such as forced labour or debt bondage, descent-based slavery or child slavery. The guide offers warning signs for businesses to look out for among suppliers, and warns that any one of the factors, such as withholding wages or retention of identity papers, does not necessarily indicate slavery is taking place, however a combination of several factors probably does. The ETI states that over three quarters of companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring in their supply chains. It suggests ways to embed modern slavery awareness and due diligence within business practice and how to engage stakeholders in the issue. Further, it advises companies to set clear red lines consistent with the highest international standards whilst negotiating with potential suppliers, and provides tips on what to do if slavery is found in supply chains.

The free guides are available from the Ethical Trading Initiative website, in pdf format for companies and organisations to download.