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Fundamental rights and principles at work

Fundamental principles and rights at work provide the foundation on which equitable and just societies are built. They are the starting point for a virtuous circle of effective social dialogue, better conditions for workers, rising enterprise productivity, increased consumer demand, more and better jobs and social protection, and for formalizing the informal economy.

Adopted in 1998, the Declaration commits Member States to respect and promote principles and rights in four categories, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions. Employers place strong importance in the 1998 Declaration and its follow-up.

These categories are: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

In September 2015, a summit of heads of state adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which frame the global development agenda for the next 15 years. One of the seventeen goals (goal 8) calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all by 2030. A specific target 8.7 under this goal calls for effective measures to end forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour in all its forms, including the worst forms of child labour.

Employers play an active role nationally and internationally in combatting child labour and advocating global access to education for children around the world. Similarly, the issue of forced labour, including human trafficking, in business operations is fast evolving and becoming a significant risk for employers, not only for small enterprises on the margins of the formal economy in developing countries, but also for multinational enterprises with complex supply chains and outsourcing operations. Employers are also actively engaged in Alliance 8.7.


Guide for employers
Preventing forced labour in textile and garment supply chains in Viet Nam

Strategy for the prevention and elimination of child labour in businesses: The case of SODIMAC

Growing up protected: A handbook for the protection of adolescent workers