Africa employers to vote on new hiring, firing code

Sunday June 23 2024

There is a proposal requiring employers and labour unions in Africa to report on how they hire and pay workers and other welfare issues. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


Employers, labour unions and rights groups in Africa have until October to respond to a new proposal that will require organisations to report on how they hire and pay workers and other welfare issues including leave days.

The proposals, known as ‘Topic Standard Project for Human Rights’, have been put forward by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); an organisation that sets standards for corporates on how to report decisions that have a wider impact to the society, are meant to ensure employers stick to international labour laws.

A similar policy had already been publicised through the International Labour Organisation (ILO). But the GRI says it is setting a voluntary adherence to the ILO policy on labour rights known as the 2017 ‘Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy,’ while ensuring corporate bodies help countries around the world attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whose deadline is 2030.

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GRI is a global entity but has footprints in Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria and South Africa. And, although firms will have a voluntary reporting, its proponents say the final document will be the blueprint to advance transparency and accountability for labour impacts.
The new proposals have been endorsed by the ILO, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Global Unions Federations and the International Organisation of Employers; the umbrella bodies for unions and employers.

Proponents say they want to address inconsistent or lack of reporting from companies on workforce pay and condition of work, including at affiliates or branches in different locations. They argue that this can help investors decide where to put their money.


Starting last week to October 4, a special global public comments period commenced for employers, unions and rights groups or individuals to propose adjustments on three key standards of the labour policy that had been in existence since 2016. They are: Labour and management relations (GRI 402), employment practices (GRI 401) and social impact of an organisation’s market presence (GRI 202).

Overall, organisations are expected to improve how they decide the pay packages, balance the gender equation, improve recruitment practices including termination, redeployment and re-training staff.

There will be three phases overall, before the new reporting procedures are adopted in 11 GRI Standards which proponents say will be the “human rights-based approach and due diligence.”

“Better information and disclosure are key to achieving the SDGs and improving decision-making,” said Carol Adams, chair of GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB).

She said the new system would be useful “given widespread recognition of the need for organisations to do more to protect human and labour rights and ensure decent conditions and treatment of workers.”

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The ILO says move could aid firms contribute to employment rates and reduce joblessness.

“This alignment contributes to business transparency concerning labour-related impacts, actions and performance; and helps companies to strengthen their contribution to SDG 8 on decent work and inclusive economic growth,” said Emily Sims, Senior Specialist at ILO.

Firms that buy into the GRI will report remuneration including non-financial benefits, size of staff, gender and other background including minorities and proportion of that staff at every branch of the firm.

They will also report the cost-of-living estimate per location for each significant location of operation, report, in headcount, the number and percentage of employees whose basic pay is at or above cost-of-living estimate, including a breakdown of employee category and gender.

“The organisation can describe how factors such as skills, education, performance, experience, and years of service determine an employee's basic pay.

“The organisation can describe the frequency with which it adjusts an employee’s basic pay, such as when the cost-of-living conditions change with an inflation index or when employees have their annual performance review,” the draft says.