Ensuring that companies apply due diligence to human rights and develop action plans to avoid human rights violations is an ongoing priority for the RSPO Secretariat, our members and stakeholders. This was a key element of the latest RSPO Principles & Criteria (P&C) review and the criteria that has been incorporated into the adopted P&C 2018 has been greatly enhanced.

We caught up with RSPO’s Human Rights and Social Standards Manager, Kamini Visvananthan, to learn more about these changes, the potential challenges for implementation, and what’s big on their agenda in the coming months.

What has been the feedback from members of the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and Labour Task Force (LTF) with regard to the changes incorporated in the P&C 2018?

It has been very positive! Members of both the HRWG and LTF are very passionate about these topics, hence, their involvement and support in these working groups/task forces. They were also very happy that most of the recommendations they provided through collaborative discussions (across all sectors in the HRWG and LTF) were accepted and included into the revised standards.

What are some of the challenges that you foresee in implementing the revised Human Rights and Social Standards requirements of the P&C 2018? What will be done to help ensure a smooth implementation/transition process?

The revised P&C has seen the introduction of some topics which are relatively new to the industry, being brought to the forefront. One such topic is the ‘Decent Living Wage (DLW)’ criteria. Unlike the P&C 2013, the revised standard now requires that workers in RSPO certified units are paid a wage that would enable them to afford a decent lifestyle with the wages and benefits received from their employer. This is a new area that the scheme is venturing into, which at a glance, can be very daunting.

Similarly, the revised P&C has absorbed elements of gender inclusivity, as well as additional indicators to ensure food security, and comprehensive protection of local communities and indigenous peoples’ wellbeing, through stronger Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) requirements.

To assist members in implementing and preparing for these changes, the RSPO and our working groups will be developing numerous guidance documents, toolkits, as well as training, to help members meet the criteria.

What can you tell us about Decent Living Wages (DLW)? How did this concept come about, and what will this mean for RSPO members and their workers?

Every worker has the right to a decent standard of living, which is sufficient for the health and well-being of themselves and their family, as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In order to achieve this, a worker’s wage should meet their basic needs and provide some extra income to help improve their livelihood.

A DLW is ‘the remuneration received for a standard work-week by a worker in a particular place sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and her or his family’. This calculation should not take into account any work completed outside of the worker’s standard working hours (i.e. Overtime)

This is not a new concept. In fact, many countries have calculated their minimum living wage to account for these considerations. The RSPO has adopted the Anker Methodology, which is a method for calculating the DLW in a comprehensive and fair way, to ensure that workers are able to achieve this standard of living.

Although it may be challenging for members to implement DLW in the beginning, the move towards paying the DLW is a progressive one for the industry. Through implementation of the DLW, members will be able to assess if the wage as well as other benefits that they currently provide to their workers is contributing to the lifestyle of the workers (and their families) in a meaningful way, and if not, identify what improvements can be made in a progressive manner towards meeting the DLW; therefore enriching the workers’ lives.

For more information on RSPO’s Human Rights and Social Standards unit, check out their page on our website.

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