UNICEF

UNICEF, VCCI and businesses share promising family-friendly workplace policies and practices to promote child rights

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HO CHI MINH CITY, 16 April 2019 – The Good Business Practice Forum co-organized by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and UNICEF today served as a platform for more than 100 businesses and key business stakeholders to share international and national good practices, lessons learned and ways forward to promote child rights through family-friendly workplace policies and practices.

Promising business practices were shared by factories from the footwear and apparel industry with potential to scale in the manufacturing sector. CCR-CSR, a consulting agency on child rights in supply chains, highlighted what worked and what didn't through their engagement with factories in Viet Nam and in the region. An upcoming workplace policies survey was shared by Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD) to get buy in and support from business leaders present at the event. A unique aspect about these business practices is the attempt to go beyond compliance aspects and focus on sustainability of the business actions.

For example, Phuong Nam apparel factory in Ho Chi Minh City is not only addressing the issue of protection of young workers (above 15 and under 18 years old) but looking at decent work and skills development for workers from 18 – 25 years old. The factory expects the retention of its young labour force (accounting for 30% of its total labour force) by investing in their protection, skills development and well-being. Another factory in Ho Chi Minh City, PouYuen Vietnam has raised awareness on the issue of breastfeeding in workplace and plans to introduce business policy and support to nursing mothers to use the breastfeeding room during working hours.

Realizing the role of factory employees as parents, holistic parenting training has been rolled out in Pou Chen Viet Nam in Dong Nai province to raise awareness on issues of health, nutrition, play, positive parenting and child safety with plans to scale within the factory.

Another good practice is the installation of 8 water filters by Minh Anh factory in Hung Yen province serving hot and cool clean water in the production area, instead of only one point at the canteen. The factory encourages migrant workers to take water home as their rented houses just have well water unsafe for their health. Moreover, the factory plans to install a new system for washing basins and sanitation facilities, so that workers can properly wash hands before lunch and after toilet use.

"It's extremely important that businesses from any sector, of any size understand that they have an impact on children and young people through their workplace policies and practices. In addition to avoiding or reducing the negative impacts, we encourage businesses go beyond compliance or national legislation as part of their corporate social responsibility. We aim to continue our collaboration with the business sector to invest in the well-being of their employees and their children through family friendly workplace policies and practices", said Nazia Ijaz, Corporate Alliance Specialist, UNICEF Viet Nam.

Recommendations were made to document the good practice case studies and lessons learned for wider awareness raising through foreign and national business associations. The importance of public-private collaboration and other stakeholders such as global brands and non-government organizations was discussed during the panel discussion sessions. Session 1 focused on Creating Employment Opportunities for Vietnam's Disadvantaged Youth, while session 2 discussed how family-friendly workplaces can be a win-win for all.

Promotion of Children's Rights contributes to achieving the objectives of the National Action Plan (NAP) on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"VCCI is responsible for leading the implementation of objective 12.6 of the NAP which aims to encourage business community to apply sustainable practices, to ensure no one is left behind, and to first access those group of population who are the most difficult to access, including children. In March 2019, the Ministry of Planning and Investment also carried out the research activities, developed guidelines to integrate sustainable development goals related to children into socio-economic development planning. This shows the more interest from different level agencies to related-children issues", said Mr. Vo Tan Thanh, Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, General Director of VCCI in Ho Chi Minh City.

This event is part of the collaboration project between UNICEF Vietnam and VCCI on promoting Children's Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) among Enterprises in Viet Nam aimed at strengthening the knowledge, capacity and commitment of businesses with high impact on children to respect and support children's rights.

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