Business Actions to Eliminate Child Labour

2021 is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour


152 million children are still subject to child labour today. Children should be in school, not at work. No child should be deprived of a childhood, safety, health or education. Child labour has no place in our society, and companies have a duty to stop child labour. It is time to accelerate the pace of progress and for business to take practical actions to help eliminate child labour for good.

Ending child labour and all forms of forced and compulsory labour is integral to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact. Our participating companies are committed to stopping these abuses, however, most companies have not yet moved beyond policy commitments to take concrete actions to end child labour and forced labour. A wide gap between business aspiration and business action persists. In response to this, the UN Global Compact is prioritizing this topic, aligned with the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, and calling on its business participants to submit their 2021 Action Pledge by 15 May.

The UN Global Compact 2021 Action Pledge on eliminating child labour reflects our commitment to work with our participants and engage actively with all relevant stakeholders to step up efforts to help end the scourge of child labour and forced labour. We wish to inspire companies by sharing good practices and mobilizing them to translate business aspirations into business actions.

Central to this is our call to companies to step up their due diligence on human rights and to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for all adverse human rights impacts in their operations and value chains, which will help tackle child labour and forced labour. Making a real impact will require adopting a holistic approach and collaborating with all stakeholders. Your company can make a difference by taking action to end child labour for good.

Submit your pledge before 15 May 2021

What pledges can business take?


Companies are sometimes indirectly involved in child labour — without even knowing it. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) are internationally agreed guidelines that can help businesses eliminate child labour. According to these guidelines, companies should carry out due diligence in their supply chains.

Companies of all sizes and from all sectors can take specific actions that contribute to ending child labour in their operations and supply chains. Pledges should aim at being achieved by the end of 2021. Supporting educational and apprenticeship programmes for the next generation and joining forces with other companies to ensure sustainable progress is made will be crucial to achieving impact at scale. Examples of possible pledges include:

  • Establish management procedures for introducing child labour due diligence in business operations
  • Develop guidance on due diligence, remediation and monitoring, using best practice from a multi-stakeholder approach
  • Comply with industry codes, local law or international standards — whichever provides the higher protection for children
  • Establish an apprenticeship programme to reduce the rate of hazardous child labour in the 15–17 age group by offering a decent work alternative
  • Join a multi-stakeholder initiative such as the UN Global Compact Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Action Platform and/or an “International Framework Agreement” with one of the sectoral global unions

Submit your pledge before 15 May 2021

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