September 21, 2022
Accountability on human rights: labor standards up for review

Human rights reporting will be further integrated in the GRI Standards, following the launch of a project to update labor Topic Standards – including the creation of new disclosures or standards.

In 202, GRI offered the only global standards to fully align with intergovernmental instruments through the publication of the revised Universal Standards. This was set by the UN and OECD, on due diligence expectations for human rights impacts. Following, GRI will now revise such labor-related Standards, as essential through the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

A Technical Committee has been amassed by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the independent body responsible for setting GRI Standards, with representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and trade unions in attendance. Members to join a Labor Advisory Group, which will support the revision work for the labor-related Topic Standards are now being sought internationally.  

"The GRI Standards are regularly reviewed to ensure they reflect the global best practice for sustainability reporting. With growing demands and responsibilities for companies to report on how they are safeguarding human rights, our standards need to evolve to meet these transparency expectations. As the ILO warned last week, the number of people forced into modern slavery has risen by a fifth in recent years, including 28 million in forced labor. Labor rights are human rights and lie at the heart of sustainable development. Therefore, I look forward to working closely with the ILO, trade unions and the IOE on the Technical Committee, as well as the experts from the Advisory Group.”

Judy Kuszewski, Chair of the GSSB

"The significant review process for our labor-related standards will encompass crucial human rights issues, such as fair wages, decent work, social inclusion, modern slavery – among others. We are seeking representatives from across sectors and stakeholder groups, to help shape the changes. I encourage all interested parties to apply to join the Advisory Group.”

Harold Pauwels, GRI’s Director of Standards

The current intention is that eight Topic Standards will be reviewed:

  • Market Presence (GRI 202)
  • Employment (GRI 401)
  • Labor/Management Relations (GRI 402)
  • Training and Education (GRI 404)
  • Diversity and Equal Opportunity (GRI 405)
  • Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (GRI 407)
  • Child Labor (GRI 408)
  • Forced or Compulsory Labor (GRI 409)

 

Identifying opportunities to improve reporting through updated or new Standards, the review will address labor and human rights issues such as:

  • Working conditions, working hours, fair compensation, living wage and income;
  • Equality and inclusion;
  • Non-discrimination, violence and harassment;
  • Skills development, life-long learning, and social protection;
  • Cascading support for human and labor rights of workers in value chains;
  • a just transition for workers in the shift to a low carbon economy.

 

The Labor Technical Committee will spearhead the standards reviews and enhancements, following suggestions from the Advisory Group. By December 2023, the aim is for exposure drafts for the revised Topic Standards be made available for public comment.

Between 2016 and 2021, a worrying increase in forms of modern slavery, with incidences occurring in every region of the world was reported, and even more shocking is that more than half (52%) of forced labor takes place in upper or high income countries, as stated by Research from the ILO (12 September).

The most recent disclosures on policy commitments on human rights and due diligence, aligned with the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines were set out by the Universal Standards 2021. This concluded the first stage of the project to review GRI human rights standards.

Source: GRI