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 – some countries or sectors may not want to trade with businesses that have bad work practices
  • damaging the business’s and product’s brand reputation through negative word-of-mouth by customers, and publicity on social and traditional media
  • missing out on investment, because investors might not want to associate with businesses that have bad employment practices
  • being unable to attract potential employees
  • not achieving the business’s potential for productivity
  • 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 employers could face

Businesses that do not comply with employment standards can face legal consequences. These can include having to pay unpaid wages and holiday pay, infringement fines and penalties. Consequences for serious breaches can include penalties, having to compensate someone for harm, and being banned from hiring staff.

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: 12 October 2022

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