In light of this, FSC certificate holders must demonstrate conformity to the requirements, which cover the abolition of child labour, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation, upholding freedom of association, and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

While the protection of workers’ rights has always been part of FSC’s principles and mandatory for forest management certificate holders, the new FSC core labour requirements have also been included in the FSC chain of custody standard. The new requirements aim to ensure that the protection of workers’ rights is firmly tied to a company’s FSC certificate. This marks a first for the forest certification industry.

FSC developed the new requirements after members and stakeholders had a common understanding within the FSC system about the application of the principles and rights at work as defined in the International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work (1998) and the eight ILO Core conventions.

Certificate holders are required to implement the FSC core labour requirements in their operations and must be able to demonstrate the same to external third-party auditors. These include:

  • adopt and implement policy statement(s) that encompass the FSC core labour requirements; and
  • implement these requirements in their operations
  • describe this implementation with evidence through self-assessments, which are verified by auditors.

The benefits of the new standard include the fact that it eliminates sourcing risks related to labour and allows businesses to meet the requirements of customers in countries where workers and labour rights are a growing concern. Businesses can provide a demonstrable way to show how they respect workers’ rights, and how human rights are integrated into operations.

“The FSC core labour requirements represent a big step forward for workers in over 130 countries around the world, and for the companies they work for, who can now demonstrate their commitment to respecting the rights of their workers,” said FSC Director General, Kim Carstensen.

The FSC core labour requirements come into effect on 1 September 2021.