Summary of Results
Recruitment is the lowest scoring theme of the benchmark. Although some leading companies demonstrate stronger practices in relation to recruitment, no company achieved a full score under
Adidas and Lululemon are the only companies that disclose a policy requiring the direct employment of workers in their supply chains, thereby eliminating the risks associated with the use of employment agencies. Nike and Burberry have provisions that encourage suppliers to employ workers directly, but they do not require this practice. Generally, benchmarked companies do not
disclose information on the recruitment agencies used by their suppliers, though six companies do describe mapping processes that they have in place to ascertain where such agencies are based.
Similarly, only three companies (Adidas, Amazon, and Page Industries) disclose policies which clearly require both employment and recruitment agencies in their supply chains to comply with their supply chain standards or policies on forced labor. An additional five companies have policies which require either employment or recruitment agencies to comply with their standards.
Of the 43 companies evaluated, only ten disclose a policy that prohibits worker-paid recruitment fees in their supply chains. These policies include the Employer Pays Principle, which specifies that the costs of recruitment should be borne by the employer, not the worker. This is an unacceptably low number, given the clear risks associated with recruitment fees and their potential to render workers vulnerable to bonded labor. While 11 companies disclose that they require such fees to be reimbursed to workers, only four companies (Adidas, Lululemon, Primark, and Ralph Lauren) disclose evidence that recruitment fees have been reimbursed to workers. Adidas reports that it reimbursed unlawful fees to Burmese workers at a supplier factory in Malaysia. The fees had been deducted from workers' wages for transportation, forced savings, and illegal termination. It discloses that it worked with the factory in question to reimburse RMB4,500 (approximately USD$650) to each worker and reinstated the workers' employment. Other companies describe the means by which they seek to ensure that fees are repaid to workers. Gap reports that it verifies that fees are reimbursed when it discovers that fees have been paid by workers in its supply chains. The company also reports that t conducts outreach to foreign migrant workers "to get a better understanding of the costs incurred by them to attain employment" and uses this information to estimate the amount that it requires employers to reimburse to workers.
Thirteen companies disclose some provisions to ensure the monitoring of recruitment and employment agencies used by their suppliers. However, only four provide evidence that such
monitoring has taken place. For example, Lululemon discloses that recruitment agencies used by ten out of 19 suppliers known to use foreign migrant workers have been reviewed by Verité.
Only seven companies describe how they support ethical recruitment in their supply chains, such as by training suppliers on ethical recruitment or implementing a screening process for recruitment agencies. Lululemon discloses that it has launched a plan to achieve "no fees" paid by workers in Taiwan by the end of 2019. It discloses supplier training on ethical recruitment delivered in Taiwan, China, and Vietnam, and notes that it provided suppliers with tools and guidance to achieve ethical recruitment. These tools include a recruitment agency screening, an evaluation and selection tool, a sample "no fees" approach and implementation plan, and direct and indirect hiring cost comparison tools. The company also participates in the Foreign Migrant Worker Brand Collaborative, a group of six apparel and footwear companies collaborating on the monitoring and remediation of forced labor issues in shared facilities. Only one company, Walmart, discloses membership in the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment. As a member of this group, Walmart is required to map supply chains for recruitment risk, offer guidance and training for hiring managers on the Employer Pays Principle, share tools and guidance, and promote the Employer Pays Principle among its peers.
Migrant Workers' Rights
Only three companies (Adidas, H&M, and Lululemon) provide evidence of how they work with their suppliers to ensure that migrant workers' rights are respected, beyond providing training or policy commitments. Lululemon discloses that its suppliers were involved in the development of its Foreign Migrant Worker policy and the Implementation Roadmap for this policy.
A disappointing number of companies have provisions in place for addressing common indicators that can lead to situations of forced labor: only 12 companies have policies that require suppliers to take steps to ensure that workers understand the terms and conditions of their employment and labor rights. Only five describe how they ensure that migrant workers are not discriminated nor retaliated against when raising grievances. Twenty companies disclose policies that prohibit passport retention, which is often used to restrict workers' freedom of movement.