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Get It Right: Concrete Solutions to Address Workers Rights Issues in Plantations & Other Sectors

Do you rely on a labour-intensive workforce? If so, it is essential to recognise and take steps to ensure that your business practices and supply chain are free from forced and child labour.

Companies that respect workers' rights earn and secure their ‘social license to operate and avoid potentially costly company-community conflicts. In addition, companies may better anticipate and manage operational and regulatory risks. Businesses can be better situated to comply with the regulatory requirements of the recently implemented Malaysian National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL) 2021-2025.

The situation in Malaysia

plantation workers were in situations of forced labour in Malaysia

of migrant work permit holders are unionised

children aged between 5 to 11 were engaged in child labour in 2018

What is the The National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL) 2021-2025?

Malaysia has made history by taking bold steps towards ending forced and child labour with the launch of the National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL) 2021-2025.

Developed by the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) and supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), this plan sets a clear goal of eliminating forced labour in Malaysia by 2030. It focuses on awareness, enforcement, labour migration and access to support, prevention and protection services for victims of forced labour.

Ready to take a stand against forced and child labour in your business?

Earthworm Foundation is here to help.

Formerly known as The Forest Trust (TFT), we are a global non-profit with 24 years of experience that partners with private, government, community and civil society sectors to create solutions to environmental and social challenges in supply chains.

Aligned with the calls to action by the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) and the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities (MPIC), we aim to raise awareness and support businesses in implementing action plans to prevent these harmful practices.

After its National Action Plan on Forced Labor (NAPFL) was released - which aims to eradicate forced labour in the country by 2030, Malaysia transitioned from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watchlist in the US Department of State's 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report. The government hopes that with more businesses implementing better labour practices, the country will eliminate forced labour by 2030.

How can aligning with international standards help companies and plantations improve labour practices, increase market share and safeguard workers' rights? Watch the video to learn more.

A Shared Responsibility

Implementing the key pillars of prevention, protection, and partnership will help promote a fairer and more equitable society.

No more 'business as usual’

Businesses can no longer afford to continue operating as they used to (human rights & governance are now a central aspect of how we work)

Investing in addressing forced labour and child labour brings long-term benefits

Closing compliance gaps, practising due diligence, and aligning business practices with local and international standards paves the path towards becoming a preferred supplier and key industry player.

Not just a nice-to-have, but a duty and responsibility

Combating forced labour and child labour starts from the heart of business practices

Earthworm and the Malaysian Ministry collaborate on a practical guide for companies to #GetItRight on workforce labour practices.

“..The government has implemented a comprehensive strategy to realise the vision outlined in the National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL). This multifaceted approach aims to incentivise companies to continually enhance their labour practices and prioritise the well-being of workers. One key aspect of this strategy focuses on improving knowledge and awareness," said the Malaysian Minister of Human Resources.

Read more here

Concrete Solutions to Address Workers Rights Issues in Plantations & Other Sectors

Do you want to build a better workforce but don't know where to start? We understand that change can be difficult. Download our free guide to help you navigate the path to better labour practices.

Available in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin Chinese - Download your copy below.

Get your complimentary copy of the 'Get It Right' guide now and take the first step towards building a better future for your business and your employees.

In this booklet, you will get the following:

  • An overview of forced and child labour
  • A checklist to assess your company's
    labour practices.
  • Who is responsible for driving better
    labour practices in your company
  • How compliance will benefit your company
  • What happens when you don't comply
  • How to build better labour practices
  • How Earthworm Foundation can help

    To view our privacy policy, click here.

'They highlighted measures that included adopting internationally recognised labour and human rights standards which has resulted in abscondment rates dropping by almost 30%.'

IOI Corporation Berhad

Through various testimonials from migrant workers and their estate management, watch this video on good labour and human rights practices that can be part of labour retention strategies.

Explore Earthworm's solutions

Labour Transformation Program (LTP)

Read more

Tools for Transformation (T4T)

Read more

Child Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF)

Read more

Ethical Recruitment Due Diligence (ERDD) Tool

Read more

Passport retention is a legacy issue in Malaysia. Awareness that it is an indicator of forced labour is low among many Malaysian businesses.

Yet, some pioneers in the palm oil industry are beginning to change this trend. This video shows the work Earthworm Foundation [formerly known as The Forest Trust (TFT)], Wilmar and Kim Loong Palm Oil Mill, has done to put passports back in workers' palms.

Working with Nestlé to Improve Hiring Practices in the Pulp and Paper Sector

As part of Nestlé's commitment to human rights, the food and beverage company and the Earthworm Foundation are working to improve employment practices in the Malaysian pulp and paper sector.

Learn More

Building a Better Future of Work

Looking to gain insights and practical tips on ensuring fair labour practices in your supply chain? Explore our content below, and please bookmark this page and check back in the coming months for additional resources.

Media Spotlight

Building better labour practices in Malaysia: The urgency for compliance
An opinion piece by Quek Karl Yen, Regional Director (Asia), via The Edge Malaysia

Malaysian companies have been hit by several Withholding Release Orders (WROs) by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in recent years over alleged labour abuses, including passport retention. A ban like this has a significant impact on a business, its image and its reputation. In his commentary, Quek Karl Yen, Regional Director of the Earthworm Foundation (Asia), highlighted the risks of company non-compliance and presented promising initiatives, urging businesses to act now.

Learn how companies can protect employee well-being, align with national standards, increase access to global market share to attract better investors and reduce the risk of penalties.

Read here

Malaysian Employment Act 1955 - Amendments (2022)

Amendments to the Malaysian Employment Act 1955 took place in 2022 and started to be enforced in January 2023. Amongst the changes was the inclusion of the prohibition on forced labour, a notice to raise awareness of sexual harassment, an obligation on contractors for labour to enter into a written contract with the principal of the contract and more.

Learn more here

What is MSPO 2.0?

MSPO 2.0 is the MSPO national mandatory certification scheme for Malaysian oil palm plantations, independent and organised smallholdings and palm oil processing facilities. MSPO certification, endorsed by the Department of Standards Malaysia, fills the need for a fair sustainability certification scheme to enhance the palm oil industry's global market access. The MSPO Standards contain seven principles which form the general requirements of a management system framework, based on the three pillars of sustainability economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally sound. Learn more below.

MPSO 2.0

Learn more about Earthworm Foundation's work on workers' wellbeing globally.


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