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Many workers around the world are vulnerable to being exploited in the workplace. They are vulnerable for different reasons and in different ways. These Principles are applicable to any vulnerable workers, but they are aimed specifically at the case of migrant workers, who often face particular vulnerabilities in the workplace.

Foundation Principles

All [migrant] workers have rights at work.
Vulnerable workers (including migrants) should be protected from abuse or exploitation regardless of their contract or immigration status.
All workers should be supported and encouraged to raise grievances. Special consideration should be given to intersectional vulnerabilities, such as women migrant workers who have enhanced vulnerability to sexual abuse and can be subject to gender-based discrimination which may discourage them from raising a grievance.
Workers whose rights have been violated should receive appropriate remedy.
Grievance policies and mechanisms should be in place in every workplace.
The resolution of individual and collective grievances and the provision of remedy are best when timely and direct between workers and their employers.

Company Roles and Responsibilities

Companies should take action to prevent violations of workers’ rights (such as restricting freedom of movement through the retention of passports).
Safeguarding of workers who are victims of rights violations should be the first consideration in any remediation process. Safeguarding of women who have suffered sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, often by their superiors, requires particular attention in order to protect them from potential reprisals.
Employers should have transparent employment policies and procedures that enshrine basic rights for workers. All workers should be trained to understand their rights.
Employment policies and procedures should include robust grievance and remedy mechanisms. These should be communicated to all workers in a language they understand and in a medium they can access.
Business customers (buyers) should ensure that their suppliers have robust grievance and remedy policies and mechanisms in place, in line with international best practice. Buyers should avoid imposing their own grievance mechanisms to avoid confusion and duplication.
Mediation between democratically elected workers’ representatives (ideally trade unions) and employers is the most effective way to resolve grievances. If that is not feasible, support from authorities, multi-stakeholder or other trusted organisations should be sought.
Company grievance management systems should complement, not replace or undermine, state responsibilities.
Company grievance management systems should be developed in consultation with workers, where possible through dialogue with trade union representatives.
Companies should encourage workers to report issues and protect workers from suffering negative consequences as a result of raising a grievance or whistleblowing.
Companies and workers should seek mutually trusted independent third parties to help resolve grievances and agree acceptable remediation, where direct negotiation between trade unions and employers is not feasible.

Government Roles and Responsibilities

Governments have a responsibility to enact labour laws and ensure appropriate regulations exist, in line with international standards.
Governments have a responsibility to monitor business compliance with labour laws that protect the rights of workers.
Governments should enforce appropriate penalties against companies that break the law.
Governments should encourage businesses to have functioning grievance management systems that are effective, accessible and transparent.
Every government that sends or hosts migrant workers should establish a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the relevant sending and host country that includes the protection of the rights of migrant workers and prevents debt bondage through the payment of recruitment fees by migrants.
Bilateral MOUs between migrant host and sending countries should be communicated to employers and workers. Governments should be held accountable for implementing and monitoring these agreements.

Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities

All workers have the right to organise and be represented collectively by independent democratically elected trade unions or workers’ organisations to raise grievances in negotiations with their employer.
Workers should be informed about their rights and options for raising a grievance and accessing remedy, communicated in a language they understand and in a medium they can access.
Workers should be consulted (ideally through trade union representatives) on the design and ongoing monitoring of grievance systems.
Affected workers should be consulted on the effectiveness and suitability of remediation outcomes.
All workers should be encouraged to raise their concerns at work and should be protected from any negative consequences when they raise grievances or whistle' blow.

Third Parties

Companies and workers should seek mutually trusted independent third parties to help resolve grievances and agree acceptable remediation, where direct negotiation between trade unions and employers is not feasible.
Third parties can increase trust between stakeholders by playing an impartial role in facilitating negotiation between key parties, while respecting confidentiality, to achieve mutually satisfactory outcomes.
Multi-stakeholder engagement can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of remedy systems. By facilitating collaboration, it can increase trust.
Third parties processing grievances should be trained in how to sensitively and appropriately handle complaints of sexual harassment and abuse.

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.