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Wednesday, 08 September 2021
FSC Core Labour Requirements Update


FSC has included the FSC core labour requirements in its chain of custody standard to provide added protection for the rights of workers in all FSC certified operations. The new requirements allow FSC certificate holders to show their support for the abolition of child labour, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, respect of freedom of association, and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

The benefits of the new standard include the fact that it eliminates sourcing risks related to labour when sourcing materials. In addition, businesses can demonstrate how they respect workers’ rights and how human rights are integrated into operations while customers have an assurance that FSC-certified products are manufactured where basic labour rights are protected as per globally recognized standards.

FSC-STD-40-004 V3-1 FSC Chain of Custody Certification becomes effective on September 1st, 2021. Until December 22nd, 2022 both version 3-1 and the previous version of the standard will be valid. After December 31st, 2022, no new certificates can be issued based on the previous version. All certificates must have transitioned to version 3-1 of the standard by six months after December 31, 2022 or they will become invalid.

Implementation Resources:

Self Assessment Webinar Recordings

Online training
FSC International has developed an e-training module on the FSC core labour requirements. The course is currently only available in English but a French version will be developed by the end of 2021.

Core Labour Requirement Q&A
Access the Question & Answer document here.

Guidance document
FSC is creating an informative guidance document for organizations and certification bodies to help them implement the FSC core labour requirements. It covers and consolidates many issues of concern that stakeholders have expressed to provide helpful direction. This document is planned for publication in mid-September.

National Self Assessment Templates
To ease the transition to version 3-1 of the FSC Chain of Custody Certification standard, FSC Canada is working on a national adaptations of the FSC core labour requirements self-assessment template. The adaptation will provide guidance on national context for filling out the self-assessment.

Right now, you can find 14 national templates on the FSC International website (look for downloads at the bottom of the web page), but more will become available (including a Canadian template) before the end of 2021 or in early 2022.

Background Information

While the protection of workers’ rights has always been part of FSC’s principles and mandatory for forest management certificate holders, the new FSC core labor requirements have now also been included in the FSC Chain of Custody standard (FSC-STD-40-004-v3-1).

For conformance with this new version of the standard, FSC certificate holders must demonstrate conformity to the FSC Core Labor Requirements, which cover the abolition of child labor, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation, upholding freedom of association, and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

COC certificate holders must be able to demonstrate (to external third-party auditors) that they are implementing the new requirements in their operations, including:

  • Adopting policy statement(s) that encompass the FSC core labor requirements
  • Implementing these requirements in their operations
  • Describing this implementation, and identifying evidence of implementation, in self-assessments (which are verified by auditors)
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