SAHRC launches Human Rights and Business Country Guide to sensitise business to key human rights shortcomings in SA
22 March 2014
The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission), together with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, has published a Business and Human Rights Country Guide (Country guide) for South Africa. This country document will provide guidance to companies on how they can promote and respect human rights in South Africa.
The country guide provides an insight into how business can relate with the labour, and land and property sectors. This is to sensitise business to key events highlighting shortcoming between business and human rights, such as Marikana and labour brokering. The country guide also canvasses challenges in the security and conflict area, which impacts on, inter alia, the right to life and labour protests that, at times, turn violent.
The guide makes reference to and reflects on many cases the Commission is involved with and further makes important recommendations to government and other stakeholders on issues including the environment, such as: setting a minimum wage in sectors such as agriculture; improving monitoring of employment contracts; enforcing environmental obligations; and providing decent housing, amongst others.
Other key human rights challenges that were highlighted in the guide include:
- Ethnic minorities may be at risk of discrimination in the workplace. Particular attention should be given to promotion and wage discrimination for ethnic minorities.
- Indigenous peoples may be at risk of access to employment and workplace discrimination. Particular attention should be given to area of hiring discrimination and differential treatment in the workplace.
- Migrant workers may be at risk of limited access to formal employment and workplace discrimination. Particular attention should be given to the areas of working conditions/occupational health & safety.
- Persons with disabilities may be at risk of limited access to employment and workplace discrimination. Particular attention should be given to the areas of hiring discrimination and access to workplace facilities.
- Sexual Minorities:; Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex persons may be denied access to employment or discriminated against in the workplace. Particular attention should be given to the areas of hiring, privacy and workplace harassment.
- Women may be at risk of discrimination in the workplace. Particular attention should be given to the informal sector and to the areas of hiring, equal pay, working conditions, sexual harassment, maternity and pregnancy.
- Temporary workers may be at risk of discrimination in the workplace. Particular attention should be given to the areas of hiring and working conditions.
Compiled with the assistance of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Commission intents commencing with training workshops in assisting government and concerned stakeholders on how to implement the country guide. Further, these institutions are hopeful that a national plan of action, which will be facilitated by government, will be put in place.
Going forward, the country guide will prove to be an essential instrument in policing business’ compliance with human rights and will empower civil society to be able to measure progress and regression in sectors such as mining; safety and security; and conditions of employment. More importantly, it will provide business with a foresight on what it can do to positively contribute to the human rights discourse in South Africa.
The guide, a first of its kind in Africa, has been officially handed to the Department of International Relation with the aim of the department developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in the country. Furthermore, it will be sent to parliament for relevant portfolio committees to monitor its implementation.
The country guide is available on the Commission’s website www.sahrc.org.za
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Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
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