Principle 3 - deeper understanding

Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers

Principle 3 calls upon business to provide decent legal, safe, unforced, and age-appropriate work for those children who are above the legal minimum age for work. 

Business should also be responsive to the vulnerability of these young workers. In this respect, business should adopt and endorse policies that protect children from hazardous or dangerous work, night shift work, discrimination, corporal punishment, violence and abuse (sexual and otherwise). Further to this, business should provide effective remedial measures (including grievance mechanisms) for young workers whose rights may have been compromised.

Business should also respect the core labour rights of young workers including, but not limited to, the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. By extension of this, business should work with trade unions that might elect a young representative or steward to monitor the working conditions of young people. This principle also asks business to consider the provision of relevant vocational training and educational programmes designed for young workers. Quality training and educational initiatives are crucial to the good development of young people. Finally, Principle 3 calls on business to provide decent work to support men and women in their roles as parents or caregivers. 

Case Study: The New Generation and Employee Loyalty

China has an estimated 242 million migrant workers. More than 100 million of these were born in the 1980s and early 1990s. As the first generation of migrant workers, this group is often referred to as the “New Generation”. To find out more about this group’s aspirations and motivations, the Center for Child-Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR) conducted a study in six factories surveying 700 people through questionnaires, focus groups and interviews.

Members of the New Generation are often unmarried and well-educated. They move to the cities with little intention of returning to the family village. Perhaps the biggest difference of this New Generation is its transience, often entering a factory for a short period of time then seeking new opportunities elsewhere. This trend creates a labour shortage for factories, and managers face the issues of constantly recruiting and retaining workers. This affects sustainable business development. Better understanding of this group of young workers could help employers attract and retain a sustainable workforce.

Most of the young workers involved in the survey had worked for less than three years. In that time, 20.2% had changed jobs once, 33% had changed jobs twice, and 20.7% had changed jobs three times. Only 26.3% had retained the one position. There are a variety of factors that these workers consider before taking a job. These include: 

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Living/Working Conditions
  • Working Hours/Flexible Hours

Moreover, these workers often associate their experience of work and, in particular, their experience of working overtime with words such as:

  • Annoyance
  • Boredom
  • Depression

Like most people, young workers dream of having a quality life and to be a part of a happy family. When they were younger, many young people within the New Generation remained in villages while their parents left to work elsewhere. Members of the New Generation do not want to repeat this pattern with their own children. At the same time, having moved to the city to work themselves, the young workers find creating social relationships in a new place difficult because of their long working hours. As a result, the young workers feel somewhat removed from local residents and have few links outside of their work. In the end, these young workers of the New Generation feel undervalued and isolated.

On the Path to their Truth is a study that involved hundreds of young migrant workers and managers in six factories in southern China. This study found companies can improve their management strategies by providing staff with more opportunities to be heard, and by enhancing relationships between young workers and local communities.

You can find the document here.

Or visit Center for Child-Rights & Corporate Social Responsibility