Home / Issues / Labour / Guidance Material

Guidance Material


The Labour Principles of the United Nations Global Compact: A Guide for Business


As the first publication of the Global Compact Labour Working Group, the Guide aims at helping companies understand and put the four labour principles into practice. In a question and answer format, the Guide provides a brief description of each labour principle, and provides practical guidance on what companies can do to respect, promote, and realize them. It also contains an inventory of key International Labour Organization resources that will help companies operationalize the labour principles. (UNGC/ILO, 2008)

The Labour Principles: A Guide for Business (pdf)
Les principes du travail: Guide pour les entreprises (pdf)
Principios laborales: Guía para empresas (pdf)
The Labour Principles: A Guide for Business (Pусский) (pdf)
The Labour Principles: A Guide for Business (عربي) (pdf)

ILO Helpdesk

ILO Helpdesk

The ILO Helpdesk is a new service from the International Labour Organization that provides a one-stop-shop to help company managers and workers understand the application of international labour standards. Replies are prepared by a multi-disciplinary team, ensuring that users receive a comprehensive response. To submit a question to the Helpdesk, send an email to assistance@ilo.org. (ILO, 2009)

ILO Helpdesk Website
Questions & Answers on specific topics

Rules of the Game: a brief introduction to International Labour Standards (revised edition)

This introductory publication, first introduced in 2005, was developed to instigate a better understanding of the essence of the ILO Conventions and Recommendations, the application and supervision of international labour standards, and their importance in the global economy. (ILO, 2009)

ILO Rules of the Game (pdf)

IFC's Sustainability Framework

The IFC's Sustainability Framework helps to promote sound environmental and social practices, encourages transparency and accountability, and contributes to positive development impacts. The Framework includes Performance Standards which define companies' responsibilities for managing their environmental and social risks. Performance Standard 2 provides recommendations on labour and working conditions and are guided by the same ILO Conventions from which the Labour Principles are derived. Specific guidance is also provided for different employment relationships including direct hires, third-party contractors and supply chain workers. (IFC, 2012)

Performance Standard 2 – Labour and Working Conditions 

Labour Practices and Decent Work Indicators

These performance indicators are to be used by companies who wish to report their corporate responsibility under the Global Reporting Initiative's G3 Reporting Framework. The indicators themselves are based on the concept of "decent work" as determined from a variety ILO conventions, agendas and declarations. The set begins with disclosures on the scope and diversity of the reporting organization’s workforce, emphasizing aspects of gender and age distribution. (GRI, 2006)

Labour Practices and Decent Work

Child Labour

Eliminating Child Labour – Guides for Employers

A set of three guides to help companies and employer organizations understand and take action against child labour. Guide 1 explains what child labour is; its causes; its consequences and four reasons why companies should eliminate child labour. Guide 2 explains from a business point of view what can be done to abolish child labour. It includes the basic elements of a child labour strategy; analyzing the situation; designing the strategy; immediate actions: hiring, hazards and hours; supporting child and household welfare; eliminating the need for child labour; eliminating child labour in the supply chain; using a code of conduct; auditing, monitoring and certification. Guide 3 is for employer organizations. (ILO/IOE, 2007)

Eliminating Child Labour – Guides for Employers

Child Labour Monitoring Resource Kit

This resource developed by the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), provides information on how to design, develop and operate child labour monitoring systems along with practical examples that will help to adapt the model to specific child labour situations. The kit includes: a brochure on child labour monitoring; an overview of child labour monitoring; and guidelines for developing child labour monitoring processes. (ILO-IPEC, 2005)

Brochure | Guidelines | Overview  

Good Practice Note on Addressing Child Labour in the Workplace and Supply Chain

The note seeks to provide companies with a range of basic, successful business practices applied in addressing the issue of harmful child labor in their own workplaces and those of their vendors and suppliers. (IFC, 2002)

English (pdf) | Español (pdf)

Forced Labour

ILO 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour

Figures published by the ILO estimate the total number of people across the world in forced labour at nearly 21 million, or three out of every 1,000 people. Businesses operating legally do not normally employ forced labour, but may become associated with such practices through their links with contractors and suppliers. Businesses should therefore be aware of the forms and causes of forced labour, as well as how it might occur in different industry sectors and along supply chains. (ILO, 2012)

Summary of the ILO 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour
Questions and Answers on Forced Labour
Business and Forced Labour


E-Learning Tool on Human Trafficking

Aims to help businesses better understand human trafficking, identifies areas where they may be a risk and presents actions they can take to address these risk (EHTN/UN.GIFT, 2010)

E-Learning Tool on Human Trafficking




Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking


Guides business on how to avoid being implicated in human trafficking through the use of their products, services or facilities, as well as how to make a positive contribution. (UNGC/UN.GIFT/ILO/IOM, 2010)

Human Trafficking and Business (pdf)


The Cost of Coercion

This report examines the challenges faced by the global alliance against forced labour. It demonstrates how these challenges are met through a combination of best practices, law enforcement and prevention mechanisms. (ILO, 2009)

The Cost of Coercion (pdf)

Combating forced labour – A handbook for employers and business

This handbook, from the ILO's Special Action Programme to combat forced labour (SAP-FL), seeks to meet the needs of employers’ organizations and individual companies worldwide for guidance on addressing forced labour and human trafficking. It provides practical tools and material for business actors of all kinds, identifying what is and is not forced labour, why it is a significant concern for business, and the actions that can be taken to address it. (ILO-SAP-FL, 2008)

ILO Combating forced labour: A handbook for employers and business

Athens Ethical Principles

Adapted in Athens on 23 January 2006 to engage the worldwide business community to participate in anti-trafficking efforts, seven principles outline action plans for business to contribute to the eradication of human trafficking. (SMWIPM Initiative: End Human Trafficking Now!, 2006)

Athens Ethical Principles

A Global Alliance against Forced Labour

This report is designed to deepen the reader's understanding of forced labour. It includes information about key global trends, developments and global action to combat forced labour. The report is available in all UN languages. (ILO, 2005)

A Global Alliance against Forced Labour (pdf)

Trafficking for Forced Labour

This training manual aims to raise awareness among labour inspectors, police, government officials, employers’ organizations, trade unions and others, on trafficking, forced labour and job placement systems. The manual follows a generic approach, but its materials are adaptable to different situations, types of participants and different national contexts. (ILO-SAP-FL, 2005)

Trafficking for Forced Labour

Human Trafficking – Background Briefing Note

This short document helps explain human trafficking in further detail, outlines the scale of the problem, and describes how businesses may encounter the problem or be implicated. A short description of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children is also included. (UN:GIFT)

Human Trafficking – Background Briefing Note (pdf) 

Human Trafficking – The Facts

A fact sheet by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) on the issue of human trafficking. The data covers geographic regions, demographics of victims, and the estimated profits made from trafficking. (UN:GIFT)

Human Trafficking: The Facts (pdf)

Non-Discrimination and Diversity


Disability in the Workplace – Company Practices

Highlights company practices and operations in the areas of hiring, retention, products, services and corporate social responsibility in terms of persons with disabilities. Company profiles provide inspiration and guidance for advancing non-discrimination and diversity policies and initiatives, while illustrating the business case for hiring persons with disabilities and maintaining a diverse workforce. (ILO, 2011)

Disability in the Workplace – Company Practices (pdf)


Gender and Non-Discrimination Programme

Part of the ILO's International Training Centre, the Programme offers regular on-campus and on-line training courses in the areas of gender equality and non-discrimination.

Gender and Non-Discrimination Programme

Promoting Equity: gender-neutral job evaluation for equal pay. A step-by-step guide

The pay gap between women and men remains a persistent and universal fact of the labour market, despite the significant gains women have made in terms of education and work experience. Promoting Equity provides practical advice for implementing the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value, as enshrined in the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100). The Guide is aimed both at employer and union representatives responsible for implementing a pay equity programme. Its content can be adapted to different economic and organizational contexts and to large and small organizations. (ILO, 2009)

Promoting Equity

Youth employment: making it happen

This tool is designed for managers, directors and staff of employers’ organizations (and other business associations) who want to expand their action on youth employment and extend outreach to young people. (ILO/IOE, 2008)

Youth employment : making it happen

Women's Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business

WEPS_Brochure The Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are a set of Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. They emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women's empowerment and seek to point the way to best practice by elaborating the gender dimension of good corporate citizenship, the UN Global Compact, and the role of business in sustainable development. (UNGC/UNIFEM, 2010)
Download (pdf) | لعربية | 中文 | English | Français | Português | Русский | Español
More Information

Discrimination is Everybody's Business


This report gives a brief description of why diversity, equality and non-discrimination are in the business interest of companies. Skill shortages, underutilized customer potentioal and improved market understanding are only a few of the more obvious reasons. (UNGC/Volvo, 2001)

Discrimination is Everybody's Business (pdf)

Equal Opportunities Company – Good Practice Guide

This book offers examples of measures, projects and initiatives implemented by employers 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. (UNDP/EQUAL, 2007)

Equal Opportunities Company – Good Practice Guide (pdf)

Good Practice Note on Non-Discrimination & Equal Opportunity

A Practice Note by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) seeking to help companies increase their understanding of the issue in a number of key areas: recognizing 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; benefits derived from diversifying the workforce. (IFC, 2006)

Good Practice Note on Non-Discrimination & Equal Opportunity

Toolkits – Promoting Equality and Diversity, Integration in Europe

The employers and trade union materials (practical guidance toolkits and motivational pamphlets) are intended for adaptation, translation and distribution in specific national and local contexts across Europe. (ILO-MIGRANT, et. al., 2006)

ILO Toolkits: Promoting Equality and Diversity, Integration in Europe

Managing Disability in the Workplace

A guide for employers in adopting positive strategies for managing disability-related issues in the workplace. It also addresses the essential role played by governments as well as the importance of initiatives taken by persons with disabilities. It is designed to promote the safe and healthy employment of all disabled persons. (ILO, 2002)

Managing disability in the workplace (pdf)

Supply Chain Management


Fair Hiring Toolkit

This resource offers tools, guidance, and best practices to support the responsible recruitment and hiring of migrant workers in global supply chains. (Verité, 2011)

Fair Hiring Toolkit


Unchaining Value – Innovative Approaches to Sustainable Supply

This report explores how supply chains function in order to identify new approaches to building sustainability capacity at the local supplier level, as well as identifying initiatives that will encourage and enable consumer demand for more sustainable solutions. The analysis also considers the challenges facing supply chains when it comes to making responsible choices in the face of competition for limited natural resources. (SustainAbility/UNEP/UNGC 2007)

Unchaining Value (pdf)


The Business and its Supply Chain: a Management Alternative

This guide assists companies in identifying and assessing potential risks in their supply chain. In addition to identifying the potential competitive advantage gained in managing supply chain issues, it includes a risk assessment tool with a particular emphasis on managing reputation risk. There is also a four-step process to guide companies who want to conduct an assessment of their own supply chain. (Global Compact Network Spain, 2009)

English (pdf) | Español (pdf)

SEDEX: Supplier Ethical Data Exchange

This secure web-based database, launched in 2004, provides members an opportunity to share information on ethical and responsible supply chain management.  After creating a confidential account, a supplier can upload and share audit reports, self-assessment and certification.  The database enables companies with large supply chains to track, manage, risk assess and report on supplier and supply chain information. (SEDEX, 2004)

SEDEX (Official Site)  | Annual Review 2007-2008 (pdf)

Other Labour Issues


ILO Sustainable Enterprise Programme

Enterprises play a key role in creating productive and decent work that helps meet the economic and social aspirations of people and their communities. The ILO Sustainable Enterprise Programme helps to create more and better jobs through enterprise development. These fact sheets provide an overview of issues within the programme's three pillars: an enabling environment for enterprises; entrepreneurship and business development; and sustainable and responsible workplaces. (ILO, 2012)




Social Sustainability Resource Guide

While a number of companies have implemented sustainability initiatives, few measure the social impacts of their operations and programs in communities. This guide provides a framework for creating and applying social impact measurements in connection with corporate activities within the communities where companies operate. (ICCR, 2011)

Social Sustainability Resource Guide (pdf)


Freedom of Association and Development

Provides guidance for governments, employers’ organizations and trade unions on working together to achieve sustainable economic and social development. Chapter 3 in particular describes how freedom of association contributes to a positive business environment, with benefits that can be realized at the company level.(ILO, 2011)

Feedom of Association and Development (pdf)


From Principles to Practice: The Role of SA8000 in Implementing the UN Global Compact

Presents case studies of companies that have adhered to the SA8000 standard as a way to advance their commitment to the Global Compact. (UNGC/SAI/CIPE, 2010)

From Principles to Practice (pdf)


Occupational Safety and Health in the Supply Chain

Ensuring the safety and health of workers throughout the supply chain can be a challenge, especially when suppliers operate in countries with inadequate safety protection. This note calls on business to invest in good OSH practices to improve long term value and provides guidance for companies and their suppliers on improving safety and health in the workplace. It describes how promoting better occupational safety and health systems protects the well-being of workers, while reducing operational risks for both suppliers and buyers. Also included are practical examples from individual companies and descriptions of partnerships, initiatives and resources to assist companies in improving occupational health and safety. (UNGC/ILO, 2013)

Occupational Safety and Health in the Supply Chain (pdf)

Labour Rights Responsibilities Guide (LARRGE)

The LARRGE Guide is an overview of human and labour rights based CSR tools, including impact assessments, self-assessments, toolkits, guidelines, codes of conduct and CSR management systems. The Guide summarizes over 60 tools, yet can be easily browsed or searched to identify tools specifically tailored to a company's size, geographic region and sector. In addition, the Guide incorporates instant feedback from companies who can post comments on each tool (no registration is required). (BIM/UoB/DIHR, 2010)

Labour Rights Responsibilities Guide (LARRGE)

From Words to Action: A Business Case for Implementing Workplace Standards Experiences from Key Emerging Markets

Voluntary standards such as codes of conduct are one effective tool for implementing labour standards. In particular, they can complement existing labour standards in those emerging markets where legal frameworks and enforcement may be inadequate. The guide illustrates how SA8000, has been used by companies to achieve compliance with labour standards. Through case studies of companies in China, India and Turkey, the guide demonstrates how SA8000 was integrated into company operations, and identifies the business benefits of receiving SA8000 certification. (CIPE/SAI, 2009)

From Words to Action (pdf)

Managing Labor Issues in Infrastructure Projects

This guidance material provides recommendations for companies engaged in private sector projects. It is directed toward project staff conducting due diligence, supervision, or monitoring of labour aspects at the operational level. The guide covers all Global Compact Labour Principles as based on the ILO Core Conventions. Also included are ILO conventions addressing wages, working conditions and employee benefits. For each convention, the guide uses a simple four point reference system. While special attention is given to infrastructure projects, the checklist can be applied to other business projects. (Inter-American Development Bank, 2009)

Managing Labor Issues in Infrastructure Projects (pdf)

Workers' Accommodation: Processes and Standards

This guidance note is meant to advise companies, IFC and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) experts, consultants, and other stakeholders who, due to the nature of their business, must address issues of worker housing. The note also provides practical advice on issues of construction, planning, management and upkeep of such housing facilities. (IFC/EBRD, 2009)

Workers' Accommodation (pdf)

Good Practice Note on Managing Retrenchment

This practice note provides guidance for companies, especially those operating in emerging markets, on how best to plan and manage significant job losses. A well-managed process can help avoid a host of problems and result in better outcomes for the company, its employees, and the wider community. It contains a range of good practice measures that can help companies think through the key issues, avoid common pitfalls and hidden problems, and design a comprehensive retrenchment plan. (IFC, 2005)

Good Practice Note on Managing Retrenchment (pdf)

Good Practice Note on HIV/AIDs in the Workplace

This good practice note introduces the issue of HIV/AIDs in terms of how the health crisis impacts companies in the workplace. Specifically, it discusses what costs HIV/AIDs can impose upon a company and what strategies and policies a company can undertake to raise awareness as well as how a company can apply prevantative measures or treatment plans for affected employees. (IFC, 2002)

Good Practice Note on HIV/AIDs in the Workplace (pdf)

Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity

The Dhaka Principles are based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and international human rights and labour standards. They provide a roadmap that traces the worker from home to place of employment, while providing key principles that employers and labour brokers / recruitment agencies should respect at each stage in the process to ensure migration with dignity. (IHRB, 2011)

The Dhaka Principles (website)

Labour Migration Report

Labour migrants are an increasingly important part of the global workforce, yet little attention has been given to the specific human rights risks they pose to companies. This report provides companies with examples and a framework for action to identify risks related to labour migrants both within their own operations and their supply chain. (BSR, 2008)

Labour Migration Report (pdf)

Local Resources Network

An online community for individuals and organizations engaged in efforts to improve working conditions in factories, farms and work sites worldwide. The network is intended to link corporate and NGO members, sourcing from developing countries with Local Resources who have expertise in conducting workplace remediation. Local Resources can be NGOs, trade unions, auditors, social scientists, charities or specialists in child labour remediation or other relevant topics. (LRN)

Local Resources Network (Official Site)

Grievance Mechanisms

BASESwiki: A Dispute Resolution Community

BASESwiki is an online resource which aims to help Business And Society Explore Solutions (BASES) to human rights grievances and disputes. BASESwiki provides a place for users to share information and learn about a range of non-judicial grievance mechanisms that exist around the world including: global, regional, national and local grievance mechanisms; industry and multi-stakeholder grievance mechanisms; and company or project based grievance mechanisms. (SRSG on Business and Human Rights/Harvard Kennedy CSR Initiative, ongoing)

BASESwiki: A dispute resolution community (Official Site)

Rights-Compatible Grievance Mechanisms: A guidance Tool for Companies and their Stakeholders

This guidance, developed by the Kennedy School at Harvard University, helps companies to introduce or strengthen existing grievance mechanisms to make them more effective so that the opportunities to achieve sustainable solutions to disputes are realized. (Harvard Kennedy CSR Initiative, 2008)

Rights-compatible grievance mechanisms (pdf)

Training Material

Labour Working Group Presentation

The following presentations – part of the Labour Working Group Meeting held in Istanbul, May 2009 in conjunction with the Annual Local Networks Forum – serve as an introductory workshop on the origins and rationale behind International Labour Standards and the role of the ILO and Global Compact Local Networks within the wider corporate responsibility framework. (ILO-MULTI, 2009)

Part 1: Introduction to the Labour Principles
Part 2: Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
Part 3: Non-discrimination
Part 4: Forced and Child Labour
Part 5: The role of Global Compact Local Networks