Businesses are advised of the United Nations Global Compact, a policy framework covering employment which could create additional legal obligations of employers and require changes to their workplace relations practices and procedures. It has come to Business SA’s attention that businesses have been approached to become signatories to the Compact.
The United Nations Global Compact (the Compact) is a policy framework launched by the United Nations in 2000 to work with businesses to give effect to a number of United Nations Policies in the areas of human rights, employment, environment and corruption.
Businesses can elect to participate in the Compact by formally registering and making a written commitment, making an annual financial contribution and annually reporting on the business’ progress in implementing the principles of the Compact.
In relation to employment, the Compact covers commitments to:
- Upholding freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
- Providing facilities, support and information to unions in the workplace
- Upholding elimination of all forms of forced labour
- Upholding effective abolition of child labour and
- Eliminating discrimination in respect of employment.
Australia’s various employment laws, including the FederalFair Work Act 2009 and State and Federal anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws, including, but not limited to Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and the Race Discrimination Act 1975 already contain extensive protections of freedom of association, collective bargaining and equal opportunity in the workplace.
Further, there are extensive legal protections against discrimination, harassment and forced labour. As a result, the rights of employees in Australia therefore are already protected and committing to the Compact may provide very few actual additional rights and protections for employees in the workplace.
However, by committing to the Compact, businesses may create expectations and potentially legally enforceable obligations in relation to enterprise bargaining and the good faith bargaining requirements.
Businesses therefore are not advised to become signatories to the Compact, unless professional advice has been sought and a thorough analysis of the legal implications and impact on the business’ human resource and workplace relations practices have been carried out. For assistance, call Business SA’s Business Advisory Centre on 08 8300 0103.