Employer's approach to assuring ethical and sustainable work practices

Employers are responsible for ensuring their staff are treated fairly and provided with their employment rights.

As an employer you are responsible for ensuring your employees receive their employment rights.

If you are a labour on hire or temping agency and your worker is working in a client’s business, you are still responsible for ensuring your employees receive their employment rights and are treated fairly in that workplace.

Minimum rights of employees

It is your duty to make sure that your business is confident that it applies ethical and sustainable work practices.

What are ethical and sustainable work practices

Employers who treat their workers unfairly by failing to provide their employment rights gain an unfair and unsustainable competitive advantage. This creates risks for both their own business and their industry that include:

  • losing access to markets and migrant labour
  • damaging the business’s and product’s brand reputation through negative word-of-mouth by customers and publicity via the media (social and traditional)
  • missing out on financial investment
  • being unable to attract potential employees
  • not achieving the productivity potential of the business
  • being subject to enforcement action such as financial penalties and being banned from hiring migrant labour
  • creating unfair competition within industries entrenching poor business models
  • developing an environment where the local workforce becomes disengaged
  • negatively impacting the health, safety and wellbeing of the workforce.

Legal consequences of non-compliance

There can also be legal consequences for businesses that don’t comply with employment standards. These can include payment of arrears, infringement fines, and penalties. For serious breaches consequences can include penalties, compensation orders, and banning orders.

Non-compliance and the Labour Inspectorate

Identifying and minimising non-compliance 

You can take steps to identify and minimise labour rights risks and issues of non-compliance in your business.

Identify and minimise labour rights issues in your business

Businesses that want to identify and eliminate labour rights risks in their supply chains or their own procurement should find out whether they comply with employment standards.

Identify and minimise labour rights issues in your supply chains [PDF 248KB]

Guidance for procurers on ethical and sustainable work practices.

Responding to modern slavery requests

If your business is part of a larger supply chain or exports, you may receive requests from customers or your industry to show what you are doing to identify and mitigate modern slavery in your business and supply chain.

One way to prepare for this is by developing a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and responses. Mekong Club has guidance on developing FAQs, including a set of sample questions.

Modern Slavery: FAQ guidance for SMEs [PDF, 1.2MB] – Mekong Club (external link)

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Page last revised: 25 November 2021

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