Principle 4: Fair Labor & Working Conditions

Normative References

UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)

UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990)

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)

UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979)

UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (2000)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)


The full text of all ILO Conventions and Recommendations can be accessed through ILO’s NORMLEX (Information System on International Labour Standards).

  • ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age (1976)
  • ILO Recommendation 146 on Minimum Age (1976)
  • ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (1999)
  • ILO Recommendation 190 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999)
  • ILO Recommendation No. 122 Employment Policy Recommendation (1964)
  • ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize (1948)
  • ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining (1949)
  • ILO Convention 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) (1958)
  • ILO Convention 100 on Equal Remuneration (1951)
  • ILO Recommendation 130 on Examination of Grievances (1967)
  • ILO Convention 1 on Hours of Work (1919)
  • ILO Convention 106 on Weekly Rest (1957)
  • ILO Convention 116 on Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation (1961)
  • ILO Convention 132 on Holidays with Pay (Revised) (1970)
  • ILO Convention 14 on Weekly Rest (Industry) (1921)
  • ILO Convention 171 on Night Work (1990)
  • ILO Convention 175 on Part-Time Work (1994)
  • ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection (2000)
  • ILO Convention 30 on Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) (1930)
  • ILO Convention 47 on the Forty-Hour Week (1935)
  • ILO Convention 95 on Protection of Wages (1949)
  • ILO Convention 131 on Minimum Wage Fixing (1970)

ILO – List of health and safety conventions

ILO Code of Practice on Recording and Notification of Occupational Accidents and Diseases (1996)
This Code provides guidance on establishing systems for collecting data on occupational accidents and diseases.

ILO Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration) – 4th Edition (2006)
The principles contained in the Declaration offer guidelines to MNEs, governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations in such areas as employment, training, conditions of work and life, and industrial relations.

ILO Rules of the Game: A Brief Introduction to International Labour Standards
This guide was designed to help readers better understand the essence of the ILO Conventions and Recommendations, the application and supervision of international labor standards, and their importance in the global economy.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 2 on Labor and Working Conditions (2012)
The IFC, as part of its Sustainability Framework, has established standards of performance to define their clients’ responsibilities for managing environmental and social risks. Performance Standard 2 seeks to promote constructive worker-management relationships and engender a safe and healthy working environment where workers are treated fairly.


General Resources

International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Social Accountability International (SAI), Measure and Improve Your Labor Standards Performance: Performance Standard 2 Handbook for Labor and Working Conditions.
This handbook is designed to help companies understand the issues related the labor standards covered by IFC’s Performance Standard 2 and includes tools to help companies implement or improve labor standards policies and performance.

Social Accountability International, Guidance Document for Social Accountability 8000. In particular, refer to the section on Management Systems, p. 113-132.
The Guidance Document provides various tools and information for users of the Social Accountability 8000 standard, including definitions, background information and examples.

IPIECA-Labour rights risk identification in the supply chain  The scope of this guidance focuses specifically on labour rights risks to workers in the supply chain. By asking the right questions and considering the key areas of risk at the start of supplier relationships, a company can build, where necessary, an appropriate labour rights risk management plan, considering the company’s responsibilities towards its workers.

Child Labor

IFC – Good Practice Note: Addressing Child Labor in the Workplace and Supply Chain
This note published by the IFC provides companies with a range of recommended business practices concerning the issue of child labor in the workplace and how to monitor their vendors and suppliers.

ILO-Eliminating child labour, guides for employers: Introduction to the issues of child labour
This publication by the ILO is designed to help businesses and organizations to understand and take action against child labor. There are three practical guides that provide ideas, advice and examples for the prevention of child labor, the withdrawal of children from work and the protection of young workers from hazardous conditions. The guides focus on developing countries and provide examples of enterprises’ and employers’ organizations that have taken concrete action.

UNICEF – Child Labor Resource Guide
UNICEF has developed an extensive report and guidance, including a business case, to provide background information and effective measures on how to prevent child labor and on ways that organizations can improve the situation of children that are employed. The guide includes several case studies on community development strategies and corporate social responsibility initiatives by UNICEF and other international organizations.


Forced Labor

ILO – The Costs of Coercion
This comprehensive report on the negative effects of coercion in global business practices provides a good overview of the issue of forced labor. It is divided into six sections that address topics such as trends in forced labor practices, the role of governments, challenges for worker’ and employers’ organizations and achievements and challenges.

ILO – Combating forced Labor – A handbook for employers and business
This handbook, from the ILO’s Special Action Program to combat forced labor (SAP-FL), addresses forced labor and human trafficking issues and provides guidance for organizations and companies worldwide. It covers practical tools and material for business actors of all kinds, identifying what is and what is not forced labor, why it is a significant concern for business, and the actions that can be taken to address it.

Manpower/Verité Report: An Ethical Framework for Cross-Border Labor Recruitment
This Framework provides a set of specific operational practices for recruitment firms that operate across borders, including how to document compliance and provide information to third parties and potential business partners.

UNGift – An eLearning course on how to prevent and combat human trafficking
The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) and the End Human Trafficking Now! Campaign (EHTN!) developed an eLearning course that is a modular training program for business leaders, managers and employees of business companies.

UNGift – Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking (2010)
The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking published a survey on industry best practice on human trafficking and its effects on business and the global economy. Case studies, concepts and strategies that address human trafficking and aim to improve the global situation on this issue are also presented.

US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (2012)
This report provides rankings of countries around the world regarding the status of trafficking in each country and the governmental efforts made to eradicate trafficking.


Freedom of Association & Collective Bargaining

Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Collective Bargaining Guidance Document
This briefing seeks to explain clearly what freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining mean and why they are at the heart of the ETI alliance and its aims and objectives.

ILO – Freedom of Association and Development
This ILO report provides guidance for governments, employers’ organizations and trade unions on working together to achieve sustainable economic and social development. Chapter 3 describes how freedom of association contributes to a positive business environment, with benefits that can be realized at the company level.

UN Global Compact – Freedom of association & collective bargaining policy
The objective of the policy is to set out the ways in which an operator can facilitate freedom of association and collective bargaining, allow and provide mechanisms for employee representation, and ensure that freedom of association and collective bargaining take place without discrimination. This policy encourages the development and implementation of responsible business practice.



International Finance Corporation (IFC) – Good Practice Note on Non-Discrimination & Equal Opportunity (2006)
This guide covers aspects of workplace discrimination, such as recognition of types of discrimination; how and where it can occur in the workplace; obligations under national law and other international provisions; practical approaches and options for addressing workplace discrimination and benefits derived from diversifying the workforce. This note represents a comprehensive overview that enables responsible managers to understand the complexity of the issues and deduct useful strategies.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – Good Practice Note on HIV/AIDs in the Workplace (2002)
This guide introduces the issue of HIV/AIDs in the workplace and examines how the health crisis impacts international companies in their operations. Specifically, it discusses what costs HIV/AIDs can impose upon a company and what strategies and policies a company can undertake to raise awareness and implement prevention techniques.

ILO – Disability in the Workplace: Company Practices (2010)
This report highlights good practices and policies in the areas of hiring, retention, products, services and corporate social responsibility regarding persons with disabilities. Company profiles provide inspiration and guidance for promoting non-discrimination and diversity policies and initiatives. The report provides guidelines for ethical behavior in the hiring process for persons with disabilities and information on how companies benefit from maintaining a diverse workforce.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/EQUAL Community Initiative – Good Practice Guide – Equal Opportunities Company (2007)
This guide offers examples of measures, projects and initiatives implemented by organizations striving to create equal opportunities for women and men. The content is presented in the context of general human resource management and grouped into the following sections: ethical norms, employee recruitment and development, compensation policies, work-life balance, counteracting sexual harassment and mobbing, and other measures promoting gender equality.


Occupational Health & Safety

Oil and gas industry guidelines and best practices for safety and health are voluminous; some examples are listed below.

API – American Petroleum Institute: Occupational Health and Safety in the Industry
The American Petroleum Institute provides several helpful links on occupational health and safety, particularly for the petroleum industry. The specific website addresses issues such as chemical safety, industrial hygiene and measuring safety improvement.

Guidelines for the Development and Application of Health, Safety and Environmental Management Systems, Report No. 6.36/210, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (1994)
Guidelines to assist in the development and application of HSEMS in exploration and production operations.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) Environmental, Health and Safety General Guidelines
In particular, pages 59-76 on Occupational Health and Safety.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) Sector Specific Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines: Onshore Oil & Gas Development

International Finance Corporation (IFC) HIV/AIDS Guide for the Mining Sector
This guide is a compendium of resources and tools to help companies develop or strengthen their response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

ILO Safe Work Programme – Information and resources
SafeWork aims to create worldwide awareness of the dimensions and consequences of work-related accidents, injuries and diseases. The program undertakes research, statistical work and media-related activities. Safework promotes, as a policy and operational tool, the primacy of prevention as an efficient and cost-effective way of providing safety and health protection to all workers.

Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSAS) 18001
OHSAS 18000 is an international occupational health and safety management system specification and has the objectives, among others, of minimizing risk to employees, improving existing OH&S management systems, demonstrating diligence and gaining assurance.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, HSE management – guidelines for working together in a contract environment, Report No. 423 (2010)
The objective of this guideline is to describe a process by which clients can select suitable contractors and award contracts with a view to improving the client and contractor management of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) performance in upstream activities.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, Safety Performance Indicators – 2011 Data, Report No. 2011s (2012)
The key indicators presented are: number of fatalities, fatal accident rate, fatal incident rate, number of lost work day cases and number of lost work days, lost time injury frequency, number of restricted duty cases and restricted duty days, number of medical treatment cases and total recordable injury rate.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP), ‘Asset integrity – the key to managing major incident risks‘, Report No. 415 (2008)
This guide is intended to help organizations reduce major incident risks by focusing on asset integrity management. It may be applied to new and existing assets at every lifecycle stage.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP), ‘Process Safety – Recommended Practice on Key Performance Indicators,’ Report No. 456 (2011)
A companion document to ‘Asset integrity – the key to managing major incident risks‘ this report describes the practical implementation of a key performance indicator (KPI) system to prevent unplanned releases that could result in a major incident.

IPIECA and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP), ‘Health Performance Indicators’, Report (2019)
This annual report provides trend analysis, benchmarking and the identification of areas and activities on which efforts should be focused to bring about the greatest improvements in performance.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, ‘Guidelines on Permit to Work (P.T.W.) Systems’, Report No. 6.29/189 (1993)
International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, ‘Guidelines on Permit to Work (P.T.W.) Systems’, Report No. 6.29/189 (1993)
This document provides guidance to exploration and production Operators and service companies in developing and monitoring their own P.T.W systems and addresses the key elements of good P.T.W. Systems.


Emergency Preparedness & Response Planning

Energy Resources Conservation Board – Directive 071: Emergency Preparedness and Response Requirements for the Petroleum Industry (2008)
The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has developed a regulatory framework that is governed by several principles, with the objective to protect the public and environment from harm through responsible petroleum operations. The ERCB directives are designed to provide the key elements for an Emergency Management System and include key aspects such as prevention, mitigation, surveillance and enforcement, and investigation guidelines.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – Guidance Note Performance Standard 4: Community Health, Safety and Security (2012)
Provides guidance on developing emergency response plans and communicating with affected communities and other stakeholders.

OSHA Factsheet – Planning and Responding to Workplace Emergencies (2004)
OSHA provides a basic overview on this issue and defines the key elements for the preparation for an emergency in an organization. Elements such as planning, chain of command, emergency response teams and activities, training and medical assistance are briefly described.

United Nations Environment Program, Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at the Local Level (APELL) for Mining (2001)
This is a handbook that includes guidelines and strategies to engage local communities in the emergency preparedness policies and procedures. See Section 4: ‘The Ten Steps of the APELL Process. Communications in an emergency.’


Discipline & Grievances

Fair Labor Associations – How A Functioning Grievance Procedure May Positively Impact A Factory’s Performance (2008)
This report published by the Fair Labor Associations points out ways and strategies to incorporate a functioning grievance mechanism and its benefits to the organization. Although this example is taken from a different industry, the basic principles are applicable.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Australia – Best Practice Guide: Effective Dispute Resolution (2011)
This guide illustrates best practice for employers when it comes to effective dispute resolution.

ILO – The Manager’s Guide to International Labor Standards (1993)

Principles of Employee Grievance Mechanisms, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (2010)


Working Hours & Leave

ILO – Decent Working Time: Balancing Workers’ Needs With Business Requirements.
This booklet serves to summarize five dimensions of decent working time: working time arrangements should promote health and safety; be “family-friendly”; promote gender equality; advance the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises; and facilitate worker choice and influence over their hours of work.

ILO – Working Time around the World Report (2007)
This report published by the ILO deals with issues such as legal progress toward reducing working hours, global trends in actual working hours, gender, age and working time and working time issues in developing countries. The topics raised in this edition are explained thoroughly and provide an excellent basis to deepen understanding of work time concerns and recent global developments.

ILO, Working Time: Its Impact on Safety and Health
This publication examines the effects of emerging flexible working time patterns on the occupational safety, health and well-being of workers. It reviews the effects for each work pattern, including sleep disturbance and fatigue, cardiovascular, gastro-intestinal and mental health problems, as well as accidents and injuries. The report also discusses a range of intervention strategies for enhancing workers’ health and safety.


ILO – Global Wage Report 2010 / 2011
The Global Wage Report 2010/2011 analyses the effects of the global economic crisis on wages and its implications. It is divided into three sections: major trends in wages, wage policies in times of crisis and summary and conclusions.