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March 01, 2015

ABA president urges businesses and suppliers to adopt policies to prevent labor trafficking and child labor

ABA President William C. Hubbard encouraged the chief executive officers and general counsel of all U.S. companies in the Fortune 500 this month to help fight the scourge of human trafficking by adopting and implementing policies consistent with the Model Principles of the ABA Model Business and Supplier Policies on Labor Trafficking and Child Labor.

The association’s Model Principles, Hubbard said, are consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and were designed to provide a practical and flexible tool to help companies and suppliers develop (or refine) their own policies commensurate with the risk and other variables presented in their specific businesses.

Calling human trafficking a form of “modern day slavery,” Hubbard emphasized in his March 3 letter that recent statistics show that approximately 20.9 million men, women and children are subject to forced labor around the world, and 168 million children are in situations of child labor.

“Corporations have the power to play a significant role in eradicating these pervasive human rights abuses,” Hubbard said.  Although a majority of the largest U.S. companies with global supply chains have already adopted policies on labor trafficking, Hubbard noted, “many of the existing policies could be further improved and better implemented through consideration of the ABA’s Model Principles.”

The ABA model includes two similar sets of principles – one for businesses and one for suppliers – encouraging the entities to:  (1) prohibit labor trafficking and child labor in their operations; (2) conduct a risk assessment of the risk of labor trafficking and child labor and continually monitor implementation of the policy; (3) train relevant employees, engage in continuous improvement, and maintain effective communications mechanisms with suppliers; and (4) devise a remediation policy and plan that addresses remediation for labor trafficking or child labor in their operations.

The ABA also has developed an online Database of Resources to help companies develop and implement their policies.

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