GRI kick-starts ‘major’ review of worker rights standards

Image: ILO

The body produces an array of standards and frameworks which businesses use to inform their sustainability reporting. They are used by more than 10,000 organisations.

This week, it has launched a global public comment period on proposed changes to three standards – namely GRI 402 (relates to labour and management relations), GRI 401 (relates to employment practices) and GRI 202 (relates to the social impact of an organisation’s market presence).

The public comment period will run until 4 October. The GRI is planning two further consultation stages in the next 12 months. Collectively, these consultations will impact changes to 11 standards.

The changes laid out at present are intended to bring the three initial standards into full alignment with the principles contained in key international labour guidance, including that produced by the UN, the OECD and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Across all three standards, the changes should improve how businesses calculate whether workers receive a living wage and the extent of their gender pay gap. They should also improve fair recruitment practices and offer guidance on best-practice approaches to upskilling, reskilling, redeployment, non-standard forms of employment and termination of employment.

Proposed changes have been drafted collaboratively with the input of the ILO, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Global Unions Federations and the International Organisation of Employers.

The ILO’s senior specialist Emily Sims said the changes will “contribute to business transparency concerning labour-related impacts, actions and performance; and helps companies to strengthen their contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8 on decent work and inclusive economic growth”.

Earlier this year, the ILO released a new analysis revealing that profits derived from forced labour in the private sector reached a record $236bn in 2023, marking a 37% increase since records began in 2014.

Previous work from the World Benchmarking Alliance has revealed that half of the world’s biggest companies are unable to prove they are aligning with UN requirements on human rights.

Investors have been advocating for improved corporate reporting standards on human rights in a bid to enhance the way in which they manage risk and measure their own performance relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Related news: Businesses warned of human rights blind spots in recycled plastic supply chains

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