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Key Updates in GRI Standards Towards Better Working Conditions

Key Updates in GRI Standards Towards Better Working Conditions

Public Comment Invited on Revised GRI Standards for Employment Practices and Working Conditions

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched a significant review of its labor-related standards, aiming to enhance transparency and accountability in employment practices and working conditions.

This review is a crucial step toward ensuring organizations are responsible for providing decent working conditions and fully disclosing their impacts on workers. The first phase of this comprehensive consultation is now open for public comment until 4 October 2024.

Key Changes and Focus Areas

The proposed revisions address critical aspects of employment, including policies on employment relationships, pay, working hours, and managing significant changes for workers.

The consultation focuses on three specific standards:

  • GRI 401: Employment

  • GRI 402: Labor/Management Relations

  • GRI 202: Market Presence

These revisions aim to align GRI labor standards with key intergovernmental instruments for business and human rights, including those set by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Expert Guidance and Global Relevance

An expert group, including representatives from the International Trade Union Confederation, Global Unions Federations, and the International Organization of Employers, guides this process. This tripartite representation ensures that the revisions are comprehensive and reflect diverse perspectives.

According to Carol Adams, Chair of GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), this alignment enhances the legitimacy and global relevance of the proposed standards.

The ILO has commended GRI for aligning its reporting standards with international labor standards, emphasizing that this alignment contributes to business transparency and supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth.

Emily Sims, Senior Specialist at the ILO, highlighted the importance of including the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in the update process.

Significant Milestones and Future Consultations

The revision of labor-related disclosures is a high priority for the GSSB, given the widespread recognition of the need for better protection of human and labor rights.

The comprehensive update will cover 11 GRI standards over the next 12 months, focusing on:

  • Working life and career development

  • Workers’ rights and protections

The first phase addresses managing relationships with workers, including non-standard employment, apprenticeships, internships, fair recruitment, performance management, and personal data protection. It also covers remuneration, working time, consultation, notice periods, redeployment, up-skilling, re-skilling, and employment termination.

Global Trends and Corporate Accountability

The need for increased corporate accountability is underscored by the ILO's 2024 trends report, which reveals that approximately 435 million people globally are deprived of earning an income through employment. Additionally, millions face declining real wages, lack of employment security, or deteriorating working conditions.

Peter Colley, National Research Director at the Mining and Energy Union in Australia, emphasized the importance of the GRI labor standards in managing risks and improving organizational performance in labor practices.

Call to Action for Stakeholders

Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the public comment period and provide feedback on the clarity, completeness, feasibility, and relevance of the draft standards. Feedback can be submitted through the online form provided by GRI.

Paul Mackay, Deputy Member of the IOE Governing Body, urged businesses of all sizes to engage in this process to ensure their perspectives are reflected in the final standards. This engagement is crucial for the standards to positively contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Upcoming Events and Participation

To facilitate understanding and participation, GRI is hosting free global webinars on the first phase of the project on 20 June and 25 June. These webinars will provide insights into the proposed changes and offer a platform for discussion.

In summary, the ongoing review of the GRI labor standards represents a significant step towards greater transparency and accountability in employment practices. By aligning with international standards and incorporating diverse stakeholder input, GRI aims to enhance the quality and impact of labor-related disclosures, ultimately contributing to better working conditions and sustainable development.


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