The Employment Standards Institute (E-SI)
Global Employment Standards Code (draft)

This draft code will be subject to consultation from September 17th 2018 until November 30th 2018. All constructive comments will be welcome. Please send them to or by mail addressed to ESI, The Federation of International Employers (FedEE), Adam House, 7-10 Adam Street, The Strand, London WC2N 6AA, UK.

All managers, professionals and organisations registered under this code shall seek to comply with at least the following minimum standards within their operations, activities and spheres of responsibility to the extent allowed by statutes, lawful contracts, court precedents and applicable collective agreements.

  General Principles
1. An organisation should operate within a set of written, accurate and up to date policies covering key employment issues appropriate to their jurisdiction(s), sector(s) and type of business(es). These should be accessible to all employees.
2. All employees should seek to make every reasonable effort to complete their work duties with integrity and within their capabilities and to maximise the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of their work outputs.
3. All employees should be treated humanely, justly and with respect. No criticism shall be made or disciplinary action taken without reasonable cause or prima facie proof – and then only in proportion to the seriousness of the offending conduct.
4. No employee should be asked to undertake acts, or represent facts and/or values, that undermine their individual dignity or unduly risk their health or safety.
5. No manager or supervisor should be required to instruct any employee to comply with clearly unreasonable targets or discipline them for not achieving such targets.
6. No worker shall be forced by threats, or other means, to undertake duties that are substantially different from their normal, contractual job role and for hours in excess of their contractual levels – unless the duties are not significant and times involved are of short duration.
7. No child under the age of 14 shall be employed, even on a casual basis, and no child under the age of 16 shall be employed on a full-time basis. Moreover, no organisation shall endorse, accept or in any way participate in the employment or economic utilization of child labour within its supply chains. The only exceptions to this are where the employment is for theatrical, artistic or fashion purposes, the employment is temporary and with parental consent, there are no physical or psychological risks to the child and it does not affect their education.
8. Forced labour without payment (“modern slavery”) shall not be accepted as legitimate anywhere within the organisation’s supply chain.

  Employee Conduct
9. Employees shall be expected and required to treat each other with respect and not to threaten violence or use obscene language in their internal communications. They shall also be required to treat visitors, customers, suppliers, state officials, shareholders and members of the public with due courtesy and consideration.
10. A zero-tolerance approach should be taken to all forms of workplace pilfering and dishonesty. This includes company expense claims and the disposal of corporate property once it is replaced.
11. Fixed upper limits shall be held to exist for the giving of gifts to employees, clients, potential clients and those that may facilitate business opportunities. These limits shall be carefully monitored and disciplinary action taken if they are exceeded by others with their sphere of responsibility.
12. Every effort should be made to maintain the integrity of employee conduct and the avoidance of fraud. If any responsible manager becomes aware of any wrong-doing by any fellow employee, Board Member or contractor they should seek to have it investigated through the company’s whistleblowing procedure. Genuine whistleblowers should be given due protection and free from retaliation of any kind.

13. The organisation and its officers should recruit employees and contractors on the basis of merit, equity and affordability. Those undertaking recruitment shall be mindful of all protected characteristics in the jurisdiction where they operate and legally inadmissible questions during interviews. They shall also check an employee’s right to work and never utilize the services of a gangmaster or similar unregistered employment agency.
14. Wherever practicable and lawful the organisation should ensure employees will be recruited for permanent positions on a pre-determined probationary period.
15. Where not regulated by applicable employment laws, the normal limit for fixed-term contracts shall be a maximum of three over a total period of three years. Where the law automatically converts fixed-term contracts into permanent contracts after a certain number of renewals or total duration of such contracts a review shall be undertaken at least two months prior to the termination of the last allowable contract and the employee informed if the last contract is not to be renewed on a permanent basis.
16. Organisations should ensure that employees within their sphere of responsibility shall be subject to a written employment contract. This shall be issue within 25 working days of them commencing work or changing their job role.
17. Pre-employment background checks shall be carried out within the terms of applicable data protection and privacy legislation, codes of practice and relevant court precedents. All checks must be proportional relative to the purpose that they serve.
18. The location of the normal place of work shall be agreed with the employee or contractor before they commence work or change their role. Where employee duties involve significant travel, employees shall be provided with a facility to be reimbursed for their own out of pocket expenses.
19. Every employee within their sphere of responsibility shall be entitled to a formal job description and adequate training, where appropriate, to undertake the duties they perform. When there are significant changes in their duties or new working methods/technologies introduced then retraining should be provided.
20. Flexible working methods should exist wherever circumstances permit. This includes home-working and teleworking.
21. Those hired as temporary workers, part-time workers, fixed-term workers, self-employed workers, outsourced, contractor or subcontractors shall be subject to employer health and safety rules and not remunerated lower than the national minimum wage. Where legally required, temporary workers shall enjoy the same working conditions as company employees after a period of service set forth in the jurisdiction concerned.

  Working Time and Leave
22. The weekly maximum working time (exclusive of travel to work, standby and on-call time) shall not exceed an average of 52 hours over any three-month period – unless there has been an exceptional emergency during that period.
23. Daily rest breaks of at least 30 minutes shall be taken after each six-hour continuous working period.
24. A weekly continuous rest break of at least 24 hours shall be given to all employees.
25. Employees shall not be contacted out of their normal working hours, agreed overtime period or on-call/standby times unless there is an emergency or strong bone fide business reason to do so.
26. All employees shall be entitled to take a minimum of three weeks personal annual leave on full pay, in addition to public holidays. In the first year this right shall be accumulated on a pro-rata basis. All leave must be taken in the year when entitlement is generated and no leave shall be exchangeable for additional remuneration.
27. Women shall be entitled to take a minimum paid maternity leave period of 14 weeks – 6 weeks before and eight weeks after the birth.
28. Working fathers may take three days paid leave on the birth of their child.
29. Employees may take three days paid bereavement leave on the death of their spouse, long-term partner, parent, sibling or child.
30. A facility shall exist for employees to take unpaid leave to deal with personal emergencies.
31. All employees with 6 months or more service shall be entitled to be paid sick leave for at least ten working days a year. Whilst on paid leave they will receive at least half their normal basic

32. Employees taking sick leave shall be required to notify their employer by noon on the first day of leave (unless their condition makes this impossible. On returning to work after more than three days absence they must produce a doctor’s “fitness for work” certificate. Employees returning to work after extensive absence shall be subject to transitionary arrangements involving counselling and initial part-time or flexi work, if appropriate.
Remuneration and benefits
33. Employees shall be paid at or above the statutory minimum wage and, where an official “living wage” exists, at least at that level.
34. All organisations shall seek to pay salaries that are competitive within the local and national marketplaces where they operate.
35. Part-time workers shall be entitled to be paid the same hourly rate as full-time workers.
36. A facility shall exist to reward employees for exceptional individual or group performance.
37. Every employee shall be entitled a weekly or monthly pay slip, setting out their gross pay and deductions. This can be provided online, where appropriate.
38. No deductions for benefits in kind shall exceed 50% of total after-tax remuneration received.
39. Fines for poor performance, mistakes and misconduct shall not be levied. However, the organisation may recover sums overpaid via the payroll system, provided that no deduction amounts to more than 25% of each month’s remuneration.
40. The organisation shall register for social security for the benefit of all its employees in every country where it operates, even though this may not be a compulsory requirement.
Communications, Representation, Bargaining abd Discrimination.
41. Effective channels of communication shall be established and maintained with employees via either an intranet, notice boards, an in-house publication and/or the circulation of memos.
42. Employees shall be notified of their right to belong to a trade union and the organisation shall recognize any trade union that represents at least 20% of its workforce In any locality where it employs 50 or more people.
43. Consultative forums shall be formed where employees may discuss issues of relevance to them and give management their views. Where formal works councils are a legal requirement these shall perform this role.
44. Where appropriate – and only where law, custom and practice dictates – negotiations shall take place with employee representatives to discuss employee terms and conditions and issues of relevance to employees such as planned redundancies or business transfers.
45. The organisation shall be compliant with applicable collective agreements where they are obliged to do so through direct agreement with a union or other employee representative body (or bodies), membership of an employer’s organization that is party to the agreement or where state authorities have ordered that the terms of the agreement are followed in a particular sector or region.
46. Positive steps shall be taken to ensure that all forms of discrimination are removed from the workplace and both equal opportunities (according to skills and aptitudes) and equal rights exist for employees irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation or identity, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, marital or partner status, religion, belief system (apart from where this espouses violence/lawlessness), physical or mental abilities, age, physical appearance or criminal background (except where strictly relevant to the job).
47. Effective sexual harassment and anti-bullying policies should be present in the workplace and training provided to ensure compliance. There must be put in place a clear procedure for reporting and taking action on unwanted conduct and ensuring that victims are adequately protected.In cases of serious or repeated harassment the matter should be handled through the company’s disciplinary system and resolved through arbitration if necessary.
48. The employment of people with disabilities shall be encouraged and workplaces adapted to allow access for those with physical disabilities.
49. The organisation should seek to ensure that at least 30% of senior management and board level positions are held by women and that in major publicly quoted corporations at least one board place is held by a person from an ethnic minority and one person who is an employee representative (except where two-tier Boards operate and worker representation is assured at a Supervisory Board level).
50. Where an organisation operates a dress code, this shall not adversely affect any particular group who may wish to wear articles of clothing or jewelry, such as a hijab, turban or crucifix, because of their culture, religion or belief system. The only exceptions to this are where the clothing masks the principal features of the face to the point that it prevents their identification for essential security purposes (and there are no other security options available) or constitutes a health and safety risk in the particular job they perform.

  Health and Safety
51. Every reasonable effort should be taken to minimize health and safety risks in the workplace and that their organisation shall comply fully with all relevant health and safety laws, official guidelines and codes of practice.
52. First aid facilities should be provided in each workplace and an emergency number posted for medical care. At least one employee in workplaces of 25 or more workers should be trained in first aid, unless the company employs dedicated medical staff or has such staff readily on-call.
53. A set of procedures should be drawn up and displayed at all workplaces to deal with all potential disaster situations. An alarm system should be installed, working and regularly tested and adequate training should be given in how to follow emergency procedures.
54. Smoking of any substance should not be permitted anywhere on the organisation’s property and in its vehicles. There should be a clear anti-smoking education campaign and smokers encouraged to have regular health checks. This equally applies to employees medically prescribed or lawfully able to smoke non-tobacco substances.
55. The organisation should ensure that alcohol and substance abuse in the workplace is closely monitored and its discovery swiftly acted upon. The discovery of such abuse shall initially result in a requirement to undertake treatment and rehabilitation.
56. Organisations should apply measures to protect workers from the spread of serious infectious diseases – including the sponsorship of annual flu injections. This should include the monitoring of employee health and requirement for those with illnesses such as influenza to take sick leave or work apart from colleagues until no longer infectious.

  Discipline, Termination and Transfers
57. Organisations should ensure that employees have a notice period in line with legal minima. This shall be at least one week after six months’ service. The obligation to give notice should be equal in respect to employers and employees.
58. All disciplinary actions should be subject to a formal hearing at which the employee (or employees) concerned shall be permitted to bring a work colleague, or works council or trade union representative. They will be entitled to receive a written statement setting out their offending actions and to respond to them in a reasonable way and for an adequate duration. The exception to this where the offending action (s) amount to gross misconduct and consequent immediate dismissal.
59. No dismissal shall take place after completion of a legally permissible probationary period, except for genuine economic reasons or a lawful cause.
60. An organisation should seek wherever possible, to settle all individual disputes out of court – using alternative dispute resolution methods when no agreement can be reached between the parties after a reasonable period of negotiations.
61. Where an organisation must reduce its headcount in order to maintain the economic viability of its operations or due to the introduction of operational (technological or methodological or systems) improvements it should do so only after a reasonable consultation period with employees and their representatives. Alternative employment opportunities and associated training should be first explored for those vulnerable to lay-offs for economic reasons and redundancy should be a last resort.
62. Financial compensation should be given to those made redundant who have at least two years’ service at the date when redundancy takes place. Unless otherwise determined by local legal requirements, their company shall also make those employees redundant who are most affected by the economic or operational changes and for whom alternative opportunities cannot be found.
63. If an organisation experiences economic, or other operational, difficulties that lead it to become insolvent – or to foresee the prospect of it – it should immediately take action to minimize any impact upon employees. They will enter into discussions with employees and/or their representatives and, where practicable, seek their cooperation in a rescue plan.
64. If an employee is absent without leave for more than three days every effort should be made to contact them. No move towards dismissal should take place until such time as it is clear that the employee was absent in an intentional or otherwise irresponsible or unaccountable way for a period of ten or more working days in the first instance or three working days in subsequent instances.
65. An organisation should ensure that all employees facing disciplinary action or termination shall be given the opportunity to raise individual grievances and have their concerns reviewed by a manager who is independent of their line manager.
66. Where an organisation plans, or are subject to major restructuring, mergers, acquisitions or takeovers they should consult with employees and/or their representatives as soon as practicable after the potential changes are known. The focus of talks should be on preserving jobs, maintaining working conditions and, where appropriate, integrating all staff into the new organization. This should be carried out in close coordination with a similar exercise in the other party (ies) to the transfer. Where the organisation is divesting operations to another entity attention should be given to the job roles and organization structure in the business entity which remains after the transfer.

  Workplace Security and Privacy
67. Personal data relating to employees, agency workers and contractors should be stored, processed and utilized in a secure and lawful way. Moreover, individuals have the right to access their personal data at any reasonable time and challenge its use or accuracy.
68. The organisation should ensure that employees are not monitored by electronic. or other remote means, except for essential security purposes, to prevent or detect crime, to improve operational efficiency, avoid workplace accidents or where agreement has been reached with employees or their representatives for monitoring to be undertaken.
69. Employment records should maintained in a secure and orderly form. Access to the records should also be strictly limited and a note made whenever they are accessed. No records should be kept beyond statutory time limits set for retention unless there is a clear reason to do so.

  Preparation for retirement
70. Where the state system for pension provision is poor, the organisation should establish an in-house pension scheme or support for an external scheme.
71. Wherever possible, the organisation should establish an option for staged retirement. Where an individual has special knowledge a facility will be made for this to be passed on to existing staff.
72. It should also be noted as good practice for employees retiring with ten or more years’ service to be recognized in an appropriate way.
73. An assessment should be made about the need for post-compete restrictions (restrictive covenants) on key staff in the light of legislative constraints and the potential damage to their business for the loss of individuals to rival companies. If these are applied they should be limited to specific territories, not extend for more than two years and provide remuneration during the restrictive period that is at least 50% of the base salary paid in the individual’s previous job.
74. An organisation should provide references to future employers only when requested to do so by an employee/former employee. The reference should confirm the individual’s job title, their period of service and date of departure.

  Leisure facilities and Community Relations
75. An organisation should encourage staff to undertake out of work recreational and community activities and, where the organisation is large enough it should support sporting teams and events.
76. Where it can afford to do so, an organisation should make regular contributions to charitable organisations in the localities where the organisation operates. Employees will be invited to select the charities and encouraged to donate individually via the payroll.
Individual Contractors and Agency Workers
77. An organisation may hire contractors and agency workers to undertake one-off projects, deal with variations in demand, provide cover for absent employees, offer specialist skills not required on an ongoing basis or fill positions until a departing employee can be replaced.
78. Once an agency worker has been in a particular position for more than two years they should be offered fixed-term or permanent employment with the company.

Copyright: FedEE/ The Employment Standards Institute (ESI) 2019