Pillar I. The State Duty to Protect

and dissemination of existing documents, education and awareness-raising [pages 9-11]

GP 2, 3c and 8

Increasing attention is paid to the theme of business and human rights in recent years. Many countries, international organisations and universities have produced numerous documents, model professional and theme-based codes of conduct, examples of good practice, recommendations and guidelines. Examples include recommendations and model codes published by the OECD, EU bodies, the Council of Europe and the ILO, as well as examples of good practice from the business community. However, these documents have not been gathered in one place. Businesses wishing to guard against human rights risks in their operations, perhaps by introducing new internal control mechanisms, adopting a code of conduct or incorporating human rights clauses into their contracts, may find it difficult to look up information.

A sound of response would be to find these documents, collect them in one place, classify them and, where necessary, translate them into Czech so that texts on business and human rights are made available to the general public. When new materials are drawn up, they should be written in plain language that a layman can easily understand.

The world’s universities are also aware of how important this subject is. The “Teach BHR” platform, grouping together those who teach business and human rights at universities, currently has 240 members from 140 institutions in 32 countries. It also offers ready-made study materials, workshops and experience-sharing forums. When it comes to Czech higher-education institutions, the University of Economics, Prague, runs a specialised course called “Business and Human Rights”, and other colleges cover this topic, for example, as part of their business ethics courses.

Current state of play:

  • The Quality Council of the Czech Republic runs the National CSR Information Portal.
  • The supreme judicial bodies publish summaries of key rulings, especially those relevant to human rights.
  • Every year, the Government publishes a Report on the State of Human Rights and numerous other reports and documents analysing respect for human rights in the Czech Republic. Reports in the same vein are also published by other institutions, including the Ombudsman.
  • The National Contact Point for the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises is responsible for promoting the Guidelines and their instruments (seminars, training, promotional materials, etc.).
  • The Ministry of Industry and Trade, in cooperation with the Czech Trade Inspection Authority has launched the “Consumer Protection” project to provide information on the latest developments in consumer law.

Tasks:

  • Propose changes to the website of the National CSR Information Portal.

Coordinator: Ministry of Trade and Industry

Co-coordinator: Ministry for Human Rights

Deadline: 30 June 2018

  • On the National CSR Information Portal, post documents and materials of business associations (the Czech Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Industry, the Confederation of Employers’ and Business Associations of the Czech Republic, industry associations, and others), trade unions and NGOs active in corporate social responsibility for those businesses that take the voluntary decision to subscribe to human rights commitments.

Coordinators: Ministry for Human Rights, Ministry of Industry and Trade

Deadline: Running, following the completion of the previous task

  • Translate the UN Guiding Principles and other key documents into Czech.

Coordinator: Ministry for Human Rights

Deadline: 31 December 2017

  • Provide the National Portal administrator with business and human rights documents that the ministries have at their disposal and that concern their scope of responsibilities.

Coordinators: All ministries

Deadline: Running

  • Assess the vehicles in place to provide businesses with information on human rights risks in countries or regions where they are planning to set up operations.

Coordinator: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deadline: 31 December 2020

Most serious infringements of working conditions [pages 16-18]

Implements Principles 1, 2 and 8

Even in advanced countries, we come across cases where employees find themselves in a highly vulnerable position and are required to put up with undignified working conditions, and where their employer, for instance, refuses to pay them. The victims of this abuse are frequently foreign nationals as they have limited opportunity to defend themselves. Evidence of such practices can also be found in the Czech Republic. Those working in other people’s households are another risk group. Such actions have fallout for employees, for the state (which is robbed of taxes and insurance contributions), and for honest businesses, who cannot compete with such labour.

Whereas minor cases of labour-law violations are subject to checks by labour inspection bodies, more serious cases can be prosecuted as crimes. However, for these modern-day unfair practices to be detected and prevented effectively, there needs to be coordinated cooperation between many state bodies and social partners. There may be numerous labour-law violations in supply chains, via temporary employment agencies, or at entities that act as recruiters but do not hold a permit to do so. To make it possible to stamp out these most serious forms of abuse, businesses themselves should pay attention to working conditions at their partners and, if they detect any breaches of the law, they should either demand that corrective action be taken or sever ties. The state’s role here is to create a functioning labour market that will not cater to illegal practices. This does not mean just the repression of the perpetrators, but also the shaping of conditions conducive to the legal employment of foreign nationals.

Current state of play:

  • The Czech Republic has ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Private Employment Agencies Convention (Convention No 181).
  • Directive 2008/104/EC on temporary agency work, regulating this area at EU level, and Directive 2009/52/EC providing for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals have been transposed into Czech law.
  • A methodological guideline of the Inspector General of the State Labour Inspectorate Authority has been issued to harmonise inspection procedures in checks focusing on temporary agency work.
  • The constituent elements of misdemeanours and administrative offences in labour law are being clarified.
  • A law is being drawn up that will tighten conditions for the establishment and operation of temporary employment agencies. Users drawing on the services of such agencies are to be made co-responsible for the observance of commensurable wage and working conditions for temporary employees, and compulsory deposits are being introduced for each agency.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs hosts the Interministerial Body to Combat the Illegal Employment of Foreign Nationals, which plays a coordinating role, and the Economic and Social Agreement Council’s Working Party on the Mediation of Employment by Temporary Employment Agencies.
  • A Concept for the Prevention of the Labour Exploitation of European Union Citizens in the Czech Republic has been produced.
  • The Czech Republic activity combats human trafficking in accordance with the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking in the Czech Republic 2016-2019.
  • Czech law contains procedures to help victims of human trafficking to legalise their stay and to find work. Although victims can take their claims to the civil courts, lawsuits tend to be lengthy and arduous for someone who cannot speak the language, is unfamiliar with the legal system, and does not have the money for a lawyer. In criminal proceedings, victims may be represented by an agent, such as a non-profit organisation.
  • Under the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking in the Czech Republic 2016-2019, an analysis is being conducted of flaws in selected labour-law regulations that could pander to an exploitative working environment (Task 1 of the National Strategy).

Tasks:

  • Focus, via labour inspection bodies, on unravelling the illegal employment of foreign nationals and running checks on temporary employment agencies and other entities acting as recruiters without the necessary permit.

Coordinator: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Deadline: Running

  • Evaluate the implementation of Directive 2009/52/EC providing for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals. The evaluation will include an analysis of the extra administrative burden and the ramifications for businesses.

Coordinator: Ministry of the Interior

Co-coordinator: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Deadline: 31 December 2022

  • Assess whether illegal employment is genuinely being earnestly prosecuted.

Coordinator: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Deadline: Running, with a comprehensive assessment on 31 December 2022

  • Make arrangements to raise foreign nationals’ awareness of their labour rights and obligations.

Coordinator: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Deadline: Running

  • Raise law enforcement agencies’ awareness of issues specific to human trafficking, with a stress on victim protection and the non-punishment principle (i.e. the impunity and protection of those who have been forced into criminal activity). Take this principle into account in the preparation of legislation that may touch on human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Coordinators: Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice

Deadline: Running