April 09, 2015: The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a nonprofit coalition of leading electronics companies dedicated to supply chain responsibility, has changed its Code of Conduct designed to protect workers that now includes a ban on all recruitment fees paid by workers.
The EICC has made the eradication of forced labor a high priority in 2015 as evidenced by a series of recent actions taken to strengthen its Code of Conduct.
The current EICC Conduct of Conduct, version 5.0, which was ratified by members in 2014 and went into effect on April 1, 2015, has several new provisions to further address issues that can lead to forced labor.
The Code prohibits the holding of passports and other key worker documents as well as unreasonable restrictions on movement and access to basic liberties, and requires that workers are provided with a written employment agreement in their native language prior to departing from their country of origin.
Excessive recruitment fees are another major factor that can lead to forced labor, trapping workers in debt to the labor broker or employment agency that recruited or hired them for a position in the supply chain.
In response, the EICC took an extraordinary step to further strengthen the Code in a special membership vote that concluded on March 27, 2015. The new Code of Conduct language on fees states: "Workers shall not be required to pay employers' or agents' recruitment fees or other related fees for their employment. If any such fees are found to have been paid by workers, such fees shall be repaid to the worker."
This new language is in alignment with the recent U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) final rule on Ending Trafficking in Persons, issued to implement President Obama's Executive Order on Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts.
"The electronics industry has been leading the way in the fight against forced labor in global supply chains," said Rob Lederer, Executive Director, Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). "The support of our membership to further strengthen the EICC Code of Conduct and ban recruitment fees placed on workers demonstrates the industry's commitment to combat forced labor worldwide."
The EICC is comprised of more than 100 electronics companies, representing 17 different sectors from consumer brands to smelters, with combined annual revenue of approximately $3 trillion, and directly employing over 5.5 million people.