A basic code of labour practice

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions


The purpose of this basic code is to promote the primacy of international labour standards and the inclusion of trade union rights in codes of conduct covering labour practices. It is also meant to encourage the use of uniform language in codes of conduct as part of a strategy to promote an international framework for worker rights. This basic code is meant to assist any trade union organisation in negotiations with companies and in working with NGOs in campaigns involving codes of conduct. It can also be used as a benchmark for evaluating any unilaterally-adopted codes of labour practice.

This code is the result of extensive consultations with various trade union organisations and with other interested parties. It aims to establish a minimum list of standards that ought to be included in all codes of conduct covering labour practices It is not meant, and should not be interpreted to mean, that codes of conduct that are the result of a collective bargained agreement with an appropriate trade union organisation should be limited to the provisions of this code.

The basic code is as follows:


1. (name of company) recognises its responsibilities to workers for the conditions under which its products or services are made and that these responsibilities extend to all workers producing products or services for (name of company) whether or not they are employees of (name of company).

2. Any workers producing products or services manufactured, sold or distributed by (name of company) must be provided with living wages and decent working conditions, and the international labour standards established by Conventions 29, 87, 98, 100, 105, 111, 135 and 138 of the International Labour Organisation must be observed.

3. (name of company) will require its contractors, their sub-contractors, principal suppliers and licensees (franchise-holders) to provide these conditions and observe these standards when producing or distributing products or components of products for (name of company). (name of company) will, prior to placing orders with principal suppliers, engaging contractors and subcontractors or granting licenses, assess whether the provisions of this Code can be met.

4. For the purposes of this code the term contractor shall mean any natural or legal person who contracts with (name of company) to perform work or provide services. The term "sub-contractor" means any natural or legal person who contracts with a contractor, as defined above, for the purpose of performing work or providing services related to or as part of an agreement with (name of company). The term "principal supplier" means any natural or legal person who provides (name of company) with materials or components used in the final products, or the final products, sold by (name of company). The terms "licensee" and "franchise-holder" mean any natural or legal person who, as part of a contractual arrangement with (name of company), uses for any purpose the name of (name of company) or its recognised brand names or images.


5. (Name of company) and its contractors, their subcontractors, principal suppliers and licensees involved in the production and/or distribution of products for (name of company) shall ensure that:-


There shall be no use of forced, including bonded or involuntary prison, labour (ILO Conventions 29 and 105). Nor shall workers be required to lodge "deposits" or their identity papers with their employer.


Equality of opportunity and treatment regardless of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin or other distinguishing characteristics shall be provided (ILO Conventions 100 and 111).


There shall be no use of child labour. Only workers above the age of 15 years or above the compulsory school-leaving age, whichever is higher, shall be engaged (ILO Convention 138). Adequate transitional economic assistance and appropriate educational opportunities shall be provided to any replaced child workers.


The right of all workers to form and join trade unions and to bargain collectively shall be recognised (ILO Conventions 87 and 98). Workers representatives shall not be the subject of discrimination and shall have access to all workplaces necessary to enable them to carry out their representation functions. (ILO Convention 135 and Recommendation 143)

Employers shall adopt a positive approach towards the activities of trade unions and an open attitude towards their organisational activities.


Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week shall meet at least legal or industry minimum standards and always be sufficient to meet basic needs of workers and their families and to provide some discretionary income.

Deductions from wages for disciplinary measures shall not be permitted nor shall any deductions from wages not provided for by national law be permitted without the expressed permission of the worker concerned. All workers shall be provided written and understandable information about the conditions in respect of wages before they enter employment and of the particulars of their wages for the pay period concerned each time that they are paid.


Hours of work shall comply with applicable laws and industry standards. In any event, workers shall not on a regular basis be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week and shall be provided with at least one day off for every 7 day period. Overtime shall be voluntary, shall not exceed 12 hours per week, shall not be demanded on a regular basis and shall always be compensated at a premium rate.


A safe and hygienic working environment shall be provided, and best occupational health and safety practice shall be promoted, bearing in mind the prevailing knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards. Physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, unusual punishments or discipline, sexual and other harassment, and intimidation by the employer is strictly prohibited.


Obligations to employees under labour or social security laws and regulations arising from the regular employment relationship shall not be avoided through the use of labour-only contracting arrangements, or through apprenticeship schemes where there is no real intent to impart skills or provide regular employment. Younger workers shall be provided the opportunity to participate in education and training programmes.

(Closing section)

6. Contractors, subcontractors, principal suppliers and licensees (franchise-holders) shall undertake to support and co-operate in the implementation and monitoring of this code by:-

7. Contractors, subcontractors, principal suppliers and licensees (franchise-holders) found to be in breach of one or more terms of the code shall lose the right to produce or organise production of goods for (name of company).

8. Questions as to the interpretation of the meaning of the provisions of the code shall be resolved according to the procedure outlined in the (name of implementation and monitoring agreement between the company and trade union and any other organisations)

9. The provisions of this code constitute only minimum standards. (name of company) does not intend, will not use, and will not allow any contractor, subcontractor, principal supplier or licensee to use these minimum standards and conditions as maximum standards or as the only conditions permitted by (name of company) or to serve as the basis for any claim as to what standards or conditions of employment should be provided.