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Many migrant workers are in debt bondage due to high recruitment fees paid to secure their jobs. They may have had their passports or identity documents confiscated; they may be unable to resign from their work without penalty or payment; and they often have a heightened vulnerability to more general forms of exploitation (such as long working hours, poor health and safety or low pay).

Grievance mechanisms

Issues can arise in any workplace. Workers need the ability to raise a grievance confidently where an issue has occurred, without fear of suffering any negative consequences.

To accomplish this, companies should ‘establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted’ (UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Principle 29). Operational-level grievance mechanisms (OGMs) can take many forms – but they need to be carefully designed and implemented if they are to be effective for migrant workers. Migrant workers often do not raise grievances at work because they do not speak the local language, do not know their rights, or are too fearful of losing their job or being repatriated.

The Principles

These Principles were developed in consultation with other expert stakeholders. They set out how businesses and other stakeholders can, collaboratively, establish OGMs that provide meaningful access to remedy for migrant workers.

The Principles are not just a reiteration of workers’ rights. They are an explicit acknowledgement that recognising rights is not enough – businesses and other stakeholders must actively work to enable workers in their operations and supply chains to access those rights in meaningful ways.

The Principles are particularly aimed at retail businesses, but they are also relevant for supplier businesses, governments, NGOs, trade unions and multi-stakeholder initiatives.

We encourage all interested stakeholders to support them.

About us

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe. Our vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination, and enjoy conditions of freedom, security and equity.

Support these Principles

Migration is a significant and regular part of the global labour market. However, migrants are particularly vulnerable and too often fall victim to abuse. By supporting the Access to Remedy Principles for Migrant Workers your organisation demonstrates its support for the right to meaningful access to remedy for migrant workers. Your organisation’s support is an acknowledgement of the importance of these Principles and a commitment to adopt and integrate these principles through your business operations or organisation’s work.