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About this Toolkit

  • Why did the Department of Labor develop this toolkit?
  • Since 1995, the U.S. Congress has appropriated funding to ILAB for programming to combat child labor internationally through technical cooperation projects. ¬†ILAB has used these funds to implement more than 250 projects in over 90 countries, in partnership with a variety of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations and industry groups.

    This toolkit responds to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005 mandate that ILAB “work with persons who are involved in the production of goods on [ILAB’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor] to create a standard set of practices that will reduce the likelihood that such persons will produce goods using [forced and child labor].”

    In addition to meeting this statutory mandate, ILAB developed the toolkit as a complement to its other efforts to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy.  ILAB engages in diplomacy and technical assistance efforts with governments around the world to encourage them to improve labor laws and regulations, enhance labor law enforcement and administration, and enact policies and programs in support of workers.  These include child labor and forced labor laws, regulations, enforcement efforts, action plans and other social policies and programs.

  • How did DOL develop this toolkit?
  • This toolkit began with a contract between ILAB and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2009. ¬†The NAS convened an expert workshop on “Identifying Good Practices for Producers/Purchasers to Reduce the Use of Child or Forced Labor” in May 2009. ¬†The workshop produced a set of criteria for effective social compliance systems that formed the foundation of this toolkit.

    The next step was a consultation process conducted by a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Center for Reflection, Education and Action (CREA), under contract with ILAB. ¬†During 2010, CREA held a series of gatherings and one-on-one meetings to gather information about “good business practices to combat child labor and forced labor in supply chains” from a broad group of stakeholders. ¬†CREA sought input from many companies and industry groups, along with representatives of socially responsible investment (SRI) funds and civil society organizations. The input gathered during the consultation process with CREA helped inform the structure and content of this toolkit.

    In 2010, ILAB also published a “Request for Information on Business Practices to Reduce the Likelihood of Forced Labor or Child Labor in the Production of Goods” in the Federal Register, and much of the information included in the responses received was also incorporated into this toolkit.

    In developing the toolkit, ILAB sought feedback from interagency partners across the U.S. Government, as well as a focus group of external experts from business, academia, unions, the socially responsible investment community and other civil society groups.  ILAB greatly appreciates the contributions of all who participated in this process.

  • How do I use this toolkit?
  • This toolkit is primarily designed for companies that have not yet put social compliance systems in place and are seeking assistance with doing so voluntarily. It can also be useful for companies that have systems in place but are seeking to improve them, or those who are working with partners in their global supply chains seeking to establish such programs.

    The toolkit is organized around eight steps to building or improving a social compliance system.  Each step begins with learning objectives and key terms.  Companies that are new to social compliance are encouraged to work through the modules in order.  Companies that wish to improve selected elements of their systems or work with their supply chain partners can choose which modules best fit their needs, but are encouraged to consider implementing all elements of the social compliance system presented here in order to ensure integration of all components of their systems.

    As most companies familiar with social compliance know, this toolkit is just one of many guides, handbooks, white papers and other materials that provide information on social compliance. We hope this toolkit is helpful in bringing together, in an easy-to-use format, some of the most useful guidance and examples available to help you build or strengthen your social compliance system or that of your global supply chain partners.

    As you use the toolkit, you are welcome to provide feedback to assist us in improving its content. You are also encouraged to share your company’s own best practices related to social compliance. You may do so by e-mailing ILAB.

    Because ILAB’s TVPRA mandate is to work with persons who are involved in the production of goods, this toolkit focuses on social compliance programs for companies that produce goods, rather than services. In addition, as noted above, it focuses in particular on issues related to child labor and forced labor.

Note: Any references to companies or other non-governmental entities within this guide are only for informational purposes and should not be interpreted as an official endorsement of those entities, their products or services by the U.S. Department of Labor.