Respectful treatment

Respectful treatment promotes a positive environment that supports dignity and mutual respect.


[1]. UN website
[2]. OHCHR website
[3]. OHCHR website

What is respectful treatment?

Respectful treatment promotes a positive environment that supports dignity and mutual respect. Promoting respectful treatment in the workplace protects employees from acts of harassment, abuse, or threats, including the implementation of disciplinary measures.

Why this matters?

Respecting human rights obligates all employers, through conventions and legislation, to abolish any practice that may compromise or damage the mental and physical well-being of their employees. Management systems must be aligned with applicable international standards and local laws and regulations such as:

  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1]
  • the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [2]
  • the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [3]

How – procedures to ensure respectful treatment

Companies should have the following elements of a management system in place to promote respectful treatment in the workplace.

  • Policy. Establish a company policy that prevents it and its suppliers from exercising any form of harassment, abuse, threats, or actions that may damage the mental and physical well-being of their respective employees.
  • Complaint Management System. Provide workers with channels to report related complaints. All persons involved in processing complaints are responsible for keeping reports confidential and ensuring that a person does not suffer prejudice, embarrassment, or retaliation as a result of submitting a complaint. All complaints should be investigated and appropriate preventive, corrective, and disciplinary actions should be taken.
  • Respectful Disciplinary Actions. Comply with applicable laws and standards in implementing disciplinary actions. Disciplinary actions should fully respect an employee’s basic rights and dignity. Wage deductions implemented as a result of a disciplinary action is only allowed if it is permitted by local laws and regulations and supported by a collective agreement. The minimum wage should always be upheld.

Example of a respectful treatment policy

“[Company Name] is committed to providing a safe environment for all its employees, i.e. one that is free from any harassment at work including sexual harassment. [Name of Company] will operate a zero tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment in the workplace, treat all incidents seriously and promptly investigate all allegations of sexual harassment.”

“Any person found to have sexually harassed another will face disciplinary action, up to and including the termination of their employment.”

“All complaints of sexual harassment will be taken seriously and treated with respect and in confidence. No one will be victimised for making such a complaint.”


Download the Supplier Sustainability Guidance-pdf here