The present Code of Conduct version 7/2020 aims at setting up the values and principles that the Almacena Platform Participants strive to implement in their supply chains. The Code of Conduct version 7/2020 enters into force on 1 July 2020.
This code of conduct is a set of principles and values that reflect the beliefs of Almacena Platform Participants and the expectations they have towards their business partners. The Code of Conduct refers to international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, OECD Guidelines, UN Global Compact and International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions and Recommendations relevant to improve working conditions in the supply chain. Business enterprises that endorse the Almacena Platform Code of Conduct are committed to the principles set out in this document and to meeting, within their sphere of influence, their responsibility to respect human rights.
In the Code of Conduct, the terms “business enterprises” cover both Almacena Platform Participants – importers, exporters and service providers, and their business partners in the supply chain, particularly producers. Every business enterprise has different Terms of Implementation to adhere to, depending on their role in the supply chain.
The principles set out in the Almacena Platform Code of Conduct represent the aspirational goals and minimum expectations that Almacena Platform Participants have with regard to their supply chains’ social conduct. Almacena Platform Participants commit to use reasonable endeavours to achieve the goals set out in the Code of Conduct.
While they cannot guarantee full observance of all their business partners at all times, Almacena Platform Participants commit to take reasonable measures to abide by the principles of the Code of Conduct, particularly in those regions and or sectors where higher risks of non-observance of the Code of Conduct exist.
In case of failures or omissions to observe the Code, the Almacena Platform Participants commit strongly to the early detection, monitoring and remediation of all such failures in their supply chains and remain open to constructive engagement with stakeholders who are genuinely concerned with social compliance.
Compliance with law
Obeying domestic laws is the first obligation of business enterprises. In countries where domestic laws and regulations are in conflict with, or set a different standard of protection than the Code of Conduct, business enterprises should seek ways to abide by the principles that provide the highest protection to the workers and environment.
Supply Chain Management
Almacena Platform Participants acknowledge their capacity to influence social changes in their supply chains through their purchasing activities. They manage their relationships with all business partners in a responsible way and expect the same in return. This requires a co-operative approach where every business enterprise, (a) involves its respective business partners; (b) takes all reasonable and appropriate measures in its sphere of influence, needed to implement the Code of Conduct and (c) exchanges information to timely identify any challenge that requires mitigation. So as to embed this responsibility, business enterprises should act with due diligence and develop the necessary management systems, policies and processes to a reasonable extent as well as effectively prevent and address any adverse human rights impacts that may be detected in the supply chain
Workers Involvement and Protection
Business enterprises should establish good management practices that involve workers and their representatives in sound information exchange on workplace issues, and allow for appropriate measures for protecting workers in line with the aspirations of the Almacena Platform Code of Conduct.
Business enterprises should take specific steps to make workers aware of their rights and responsibilities. In addition, business enterprises are required to build sufficient competence among employers, managers, workers and workers representatives in order to embed these practices in the business operation successfully. Continuous education and training at each level of work is essential, particularly with regard to Occupational Health and Safety. Business enterprises should establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted.
The rights of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
Business partners shall: (a) respect the right of workers to form unions in a free and democratic way; (b) not discriminate against workers because of trade union membership and (c) respect workers’ right to bargain collectively. Business partners shall not prevent workers’ representatives from having access to workers in the workplace or from interacting with them.
When operating in countries where trade union activity is unlawful or where free and democratic trade union activity is not allowed, business partners shall respect this principle by allowing workers to freely elect their own representatives with whom the company can enter into dialogue about workplace issues.
Business partners shall not discriminate, exclude or have a certain preference for persons on the basis of gender, age, religion, race, caste, birth, social background, disability, ethnic and national origin, nationality, membership in unions or any other legitimated organisations, political affiliation or opinions, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, marital status, diseases or any other condition that could give rise to discrimination. In particular, workers shall not be harassed or disciplined on any of the grounds listed above.
Business partners observe this principle when they respect the right of the workers to receive fair remuneration that is sufficient to provide them with a decent living for themselves and their families, as well as the social benefits legally granted, without prejudice to the specific expectations set out hereunder. Business partners shall comply, as a minimum, with wages mandated by governments’ minimum wage legislation, or industry standards approved on the basis of collective bargaining, whichever is higher. Wages are to be paid in a timely manner, regularly, and fully in legal tender. Partial payment in the form of allowance “in kind” is accepted in line with ILO specifications. The level of wages is to reflect the skills and education of workers and shall refer to regular working hours. Deductions will be permitted only under the conditions and to the extent prescribed by law or fixed by collective agreement.
Decent Working Hours
Business partners observe this principle when they ensure that workers are not required to work more than 48 regular hours per week. Applicable national laws, industry benchmark standards or collective agreements are to be interpreted within the international framework set out by the ILO. In exceptional cases defined by the ILO, the limit of hours of work prescribed above may be exceeded, in which case overtime is calculated. The use of overtime is meant to be exceptional, voluntary, paid at a premium rate of not less than one and one-quarter times the regular rate and shall not represent a significantly higher likelihood of occupational hazards. Furthermore, Business Partners shall grant their workers with the right to resting breaks in every working day and the right to at least one day off in every seven days, unless exceptions defined by collective agreements apply.
Occupational Health and Safety
Business partners observe this principle when they respect the right to healthy working and living conditions of workers and local communities. Vulnerable individuals such as – but not limited to – young workers, new and expecting mothers and persons with disabilities, shall receive special protection. Business partners shall comply with occupational health and safety regulations, or with international standards where domestic legislation is weak or poorly enforced. The active co-operation between management and workers, and/or their representatives is essential in order to develop and implement systems towards ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. This may be achieved through the establishment of Occupational Health and Safety Committees. Business partners shall ensure that there are systems in place to detect, assess, avoid and respond to potential threats to the health and safety of workers. They shall take effective measures to prevent workers from having accidents, injuries or illnesses, arising from, associated with, or occurring during work. These measures should aim at minimizing so far as is reasonable the causes of hazards inherent within the workplace. Business partners will seek improving workers protection in case of accident including through compulsory insurance schemes. Business partners shall take all appropriate measures within their sphere of influence, to see to the stability and safety of the equipment and buildings they use, including residential facilities to workers when these are provided by the employer as well as to protect against any foreseeable emergency. Business partners shall respect the workers’ right to exit the premises from imminent danger without seeking permission. Business partners shall ensure adequate occupational medical assistance and related facilities. Business partners shall ensure access to drinking water, safe and clean eating and resting areas as well as clean and safe cooking and food storage areas. Furthermore, business partners shall always provide effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all workers free of charge.
No Child Labour
Business partners observe this principle when they do not employ directly or indirectly, children below the minimum age of completion of compulsory schooling as defined by law, which shall not be less than 15 years, unless the exceptions recognised by the ILO apply. Business partners must establish robust age-verification mechanisms as part of the recruitment process, which may not be in any way degrading or disrespectful to the worker. This principle aims to protect children from any form of exploitation. Special care is to be taken on the occasion of the dismissal of children, as they can move into more hazardous employment, such as prostitution or drug trafficking. In removing children from the workplace, business partners should identify in a proactive manner, measures to ensure the protection of affected children. When appropriate, they shall pursue the possibility to provide decent work for adult household members of the affected children’s family.
Special Protection for Young Workers
Business partners observe this principle when they ensure that young persons do not work at night and that they are protected against conditions of work which are prejudicial to their health, safety, morals and development. Where young workers are employed, business partners should ensure that (a) the kind of work is not likely to be harmful to their health or development; (b) their working hours do not prejudice their attendance at school, their participation in vocational orientation approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from training or instruction programs. Business partners shall set the necessary mechanisms to prevent, identify and mitigate harm to young workers; with special attention to the access young workers shall have to effective grievance mechanisms and to Occupational Health and Safety trainings schemes and programmes.
No Precarious Employment
Business partners observe this principle when (a) they ensure that their employment relationships do not cause insecurity and social or economic vulnerability for their workers; (b) work is performed on the basis of a recognised and documented employment relationship, established in compliance with national legislation, custom or practice and international labour standards, whichever provides greater protection. Before entering into employment, business partners are to provide workers with understandable information about their rights, responsibilities and employment conditions, including working hours, remuneration and terms of payment. Business partners should aim at providing decent working conditions that also support workers, both women and men, in their roles as parents or caregivers, especially with regard to migrant and seasonal workers whose children may be left in the migrants’ home towns. Business partners shall not use employment arrangements in a way that deliberately does not correspond to the genuine purpose of the law. This includes – but is not limited to – (a) apprenticeship schemes where there is no intent to impart skills or provide regular employment, (b) seasonality or contingency work when used to undermine workers’ protection, and (c) labour-only contracting. Furthermore, the use of sub-contracting may not serve to undermine the rights of workers.
No Bonded Labour
Business partners shall not engage in any form of servitude, forced, bonded, indentured, trafficked or non-voluntary labour. Business partners will risk allegations of complicity if they benefit from the use of such forms of labour by their business partners. Business partners shall act with special diligence when engaging and recruiting migrant workers both directly and indirectly. Business partners shall allow their workers the right to leave work and freely terminate their employment provided that workers give reasonable notice to the employer. Business partners shall ensure that workers are not subject to inhumane or degrading treatment, corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion and/or verbal abuse. All disciplinary procedures must be established in writing, and are to be explained verbally to workers in clear and understandable terms.
Protection of the Environment
Business partners observe this principle when they take the necessary measures to avoid environmental degradation. Business partners should assess significant environmental impact of operations, and establish effective policies and procedures that reflect their environmental responsibility. They will see to implement adequate measures to prevent or minimise adverse effects on the community, natural resources and the overall environment.
All required environmental permits, approvals and registrations are to be obtained, maintained and kept current and their operational and reporting requirements are to be followed.
Emissions and discharges of pollutants and generation of waste are to be minimized or eliminated at the source or by practices such as adding pollution control equipment; modifying production, maintenance and facility processes; or by other means. The use of natural resources, including water, fossil fuels, minerals and virgin forest products, is to be conserved or by practices such as modifying production, maintenance and facility processes, materials substitution, re-use, conservation, recycling or other means.
Chemicals and other materials posing a hazard to humans or the environment are to be identified, labelled and managed to ensure their safe handling, movement, storage, use, recycling or reuse and disposal.
Business Partners shall implement a systematic approach to identify, manage, reduce, and responsibly dispose of or recycle solid waste (non-hazardous).
Business Partners shall implement a water management program that documents, characterizes, and monitors water sources, use and discharge; seeks opportunities to conserve water; and controls channels of contamination. All wastewater is to be characterized, monitored, controlled, and treated as required prior to discharge or disposal. Business Partners shall conduct routine monitoring of the performance of its wastewater treatment and containment systems to ensure optimal performance and regulatory compliance.
Ethical Business Behaviour
Business partners observe this principle whenx` they are not involved in any act of corruption, extortion or embezzlement, nor in any form of bribery – including but not limited to – the promising, offering, giving or accepting of any improper monetary or other incentive. Business partners are expected to keep accurate information regarding their activities, structure and performance, and should disclose these in accordance with applicable regulations and industry benchmark practices. Business partners should neither participate in falsifying such information, nor in any act of misrepresentation in the supply chain. Furthermore, they should collect, use and otherwise process personal information (including that from workers, business partners, customers and consumers in their sphere of influence) with reasonable care. The collection, use and other processing of personal information is to comply with privacy and information security laws and regulatory requirements.
Standards of fair business, advertising and competition are to be upheld
Business Partners are to commit to protecting the reasonable privacy expectations of personal information of everyone they do business with, including suppliers, customers, consumers and employees. Business Partners are to comply with privacy and information security laws and regulatory requirements when personal information is collected, stored, processed, transmitted, and shared.