Protecting foreign workers.
As described in our Code of Vendor Conduct, the fundamental rights and freedoms articulated in the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work must be respected by facilities that recruit or employ foreign contract workers. Gap Inc. maintains that facilities that recruit or employ foreign contract workers (FCWs) shall ensure that these workers are treated fairly and on an equal basis with its local workers. Migrant workers shall not be subject to any form of forced, compulsory, bonded or indentured labor. All work must be voluntary, and workers must be free to terminate their employment at any time, without penalty. Further, our approach to foreign contract workers and the repayment of recruitment fees and related costs is aligned with Impactt’s Standards for Repayment of Migrant Worker Recruitment Fees. While our own policy on recruitment fees is already aligned with Impactt’s standards, we are now exploring how we can support their adoption across our sector.
Migrant workers (or their family members) shall not be threatened with denunciation to authorities to coerce them into taking up employment or preventing them from voluntarily terminating their employment, at any time, without penalty.
In addition, as part of our Code of Vendor Conduct, Gap Inc. requires suppliers to hold direct employment contracts and agreements with all contract workers as a way to protect rights of vulnerable workers. While very few factories in our supply chain use contracted labor, this policy is in place so that our suppliers have a direct relationship with contract workers rather than just their recruiting agencies. The section of our COVC detailing our Foreign Contract Worker Requirements can be found here.
In 2018, we conducted a risk assessment to further understand where foreign contract workers are employed in upstream facilities, particularly at the fabric mill level, where we know foreign contract workers are often prevalent. Details on our efforts to support foreign contract workers employed in fabric mills in Taiwan can be found here.
Within our COVC, we have incorporated an extensive list of procedures and standards in relation to the treatment and employment of foreign contract workers. Our COVC states that facilities shall not discriminate, intimidate, control passports or misuse contracts or recruiting fees and paperwork as they relate to migrant and foreign workers. We also amended our requirements on employment of foreign contract workers to ensure due diligence of recruitment agencies before contracts are made with them, and we regularly assess their existing recruitment agencies on their legal and ethical recruitment practices. Our Supplier Sustainability team tracks these procedures to ensure that these workers are treated fairly and on an equal basis with local workers.
As described in our COVC, facilities are expected to use recruitment agencies only under the following conditions:
Our Supplier Sustainability team audits to determine whether our policies and standards are followed. Gap Inc.’s Foreign Contract Workers policy states: “The facility shall pay all fees and costs payable to the host government for the documentation of FCWs’ employment in the host country, including any levies, fees for work permit, fees for renewing work documents. The facility shall not at any point deduct from wages, charge workers or otherwise accept reimbursements to recoup these fees. The facility or the recruitment agency shall not collect from FCWs a deposit or bond or withhold part of FCWs’ earnings at any point of their employment.”
The FCW policy also prohibits recruitment agencies from charging FCWs any illegal fees and/or fees payable to the host government, such as levy, legal work document fees, and fees for renewing work documents.
In cases where it has been found that recruitment fees have been paid by workers, we require and verify that the affected workers are reimbursed.
To clarify this requirement, we:
Of all facilities active as of the end of fiscal year 2020, only a few employed foreign contract workers, including 3 in Jordan, where we partnered with Better Work and the World Bank to help provide employment opportunities in the garment sector to Syrian refugees.
In cases where a local contractor or hiring agent may be involved in the hiring of domestic migrant workers, the cost is borne by the employer and not the worker.