Preventing and eradicating child labor from Nespresso’s supply chain

Nespresso has a zero tolerance of child labor. It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately.

The causes of child labor are complex, linked to specific economic, social and cultural issues affecting entire communities. We consider the issue of child labor a priority and have taken specific actions to prevent and eradicate child labor from the farms we work with.

 

 

SUPPORTING FARMERS TO COMPLY WITH OUR ZERO TOLERANCE TO CHILD LABOR

When seeking to eradicate child labor, we believe that actions must focus on education and remediation. Nespresso’s zero tolerance for child labor has been a critical pre-requisite of our AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program since its creation in 2003.

The prohibition of child labor is a key component of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, which was developed in cooperation with the independent internationally recognized NGO, the Rainforest Alliance, in compliance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.

Coffee farmers must comply with our zero tolerance to child labor as a pre-requisite in order to join our AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. If a farmer fails to comply with this critical criterion, he will not be able to join our AAA Program.  If a farmer fails to keep the compliance with this criterion, we will not buy coffee from this farm until they can demonstrate that the standard is respected, and they once again comply with ILO standards and local law. We will support them in that endeavor as we believe that plain exclusion will not help remedy the problem of child labor.

Nespresso has been developing a specific integrated and long-term approach to protecting children in coffee producing regions since 2018. Two priorities have been identified to prevent and eliminate child labor from our supply chain:

  1. Reinforce child labor prevention, monitoring and identification of cases
  2. Remediate root causes in high risk countries

As part of this work, policies and processes to address child labor were strengthened, and a response guide to protecting children in coffee farming has been developed to support agronomists and other Nespresso’s staff. A tailored-training program was designed and deployed in Central America to boost agronomists’ capacities in dealing with the prevention and potential management of child labor occurrences.  We also run dedicated awareness sessions on the risks of child labor for cooperatives and farmers, in addition to the education and training that is already provided as part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program globally.

We tackle poverty reduction by improving farmers’ livelihoods by paying price premiums for the coffee we buy and working with them to implement good farming practices and cost reductions to improve the productivity of their farms. We also created safe places for children in large farms during harvest, while their parents work in the farm in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala.

 

COLLABORATING LOCALLY TO PROTECT CHILDREN

There is unfortunately no straightforward answer to the eradication of child labor, as its root causes are multiple and complex. We believe that we make a difference thanks to our on the ground presence and our network of agronomists in coffee producing countries is trained and empowered to raise farmers’ awareness on the risks of child labor through trainings and discussions as well as to identify and resolve cases related to child labor. We also believe in the power of collaboration to protect children. That is why we work with our NGO partners, such as Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International, and the Fair Labor Association to reinforce good working practices and fair treatment of workers, including education on the risks of child labor to prevent the likelihood of occurrences.

We will continue to do all we can to stamp out child labor. It has no place in our supply chain.

 

WHAT THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION (ILO) CONVENTIONS SAYS IN REGARD TO CHILD LABOR

ILO Convention No. 138 specifies the minimum age for different types of employment as follows: 13 years for light work, 15 years for ordinary work and 18 years for hazardous work. Developing countries have the option to designate a higher age, or in exceptional cases, an age one year lower than the standard.

 

Overview

Minimim age at which children can start to work

Possible exceptions for developing countries

Basic Minimum Age
The minimum age for work should not be below the age for finishing compulsory schooling, and in any case not less than 15 years old.

15 14

Light work
Children between the ages of 13 and 15 may do light work, as long as it does not threaten their health and safety nor hinder their education.

13-15 12-14

Hazardous work
Any work likely to jeopardize children’s physical, mental or moral health, safety or morals constitutes the worst form of child labor and a violation of international labor standards if done by anyone under the age of 18.

18 (16 under strict conditions) 18 (16 under strict conditions)

 

 

HOW WE ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSES OF CHILD LABOR

In addition to the specific criterion that farms must comply with and the supplier code of conduct that the company has put in place, Nespresso takes a number of concrete actions and additional steps to address the root causes of child labor:
1. The Nespresso AAA approach helps farmers track compliance and performance against specific criteria. Nespresso and agronomists work with farmers to complete self-assessments and jointly address any issues.
2. As economic conditions are one of the major causes of child labor, Nespresso pays a premium to farmers for AAA coffee, improving the economic and social aspects of farming families and reducing a significant factor in the use of child labor. The AAA Program is proven to create economic positive impact for the farmers (study here) . Net income levels have been found to be 46% higher for AAA farmers than non-AAA farmers. In addition, profits of farmers in the program increase on average by 20% (study here).
3. Awareness of the issue is a significant step in preventing it. Along with its partners on the ground, Nespresso finances trainings for farmers who are part of the AAA Program and provides tools to raise awareness and promote prevention of child labor.
4. Nespresso has developed dedicated policies and processes, incl. a response guide to protecting children in coffee farming, to support agronomists and other Nespresso’s staff protect children. A tailored-training program was also designed and deployed in Central America to boost agronomists’ capacities in dealing with the prevention and potential management of child labor occurrences.  
5. We also created safe places for children in large farms during harvest, while their parents work in the farm in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala.

 

 

OUR COMMITMENT TO BUYING COFFEE FROM CHILD LABOR FREE FARMS

Widespread problems such as child labor are systemic across many industries and need broader solutions. We work with Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International and the Fair Labor Associate to reinforce good working practices and fair treatment of workers, including education on the risks of child labor. We invest heavily in this effort; in 2019, our 400 agronomists made over 170,000 farm visits and trainings across the world, including 60,000 detailed farm sustainability assessments. This was backed up by more than 3,300 third party verification farm audits.  

The prohibition of child labor is a key component of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, which was developed in cooperation with the independent internationally recognized NGO, the Rainforest Alliance, in compliance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.

All the farms taking part in the AAA Program are visited every year and assessed against our core criteria. Child labor is therefore monitored as part of this process. Compliance with the standard is also verified by an independent third party, the Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN).

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO A FARM FOUND IN BREACH OF THE ILO CONVENTIONS?

A farm which is found not to comply with the child labor requirements of the AAA Program or ILO conventions will be excluded from the AAA Program until it demonstrates that it complies again with the AAA standards. We will support the farmer in that endeavor as we believe that plain exclusion will not help remedy the problem of child labor.

 

VERIFICATION OF NEW FARMS TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH OUR NO CHILD LABOR CRITERION

No new farm is allowed to enter the AAA Program if child labor has been identified. The Program includes a clear process for farm verification to ensure compliance with the sustainability and quality standards of the program, including the prohibition of the use of child labor.

 

NESPRESSO’S FARM VERIFICATION PROCESS

Farmers are clearly told when they join our AAA Program that respecting the child labor criterion and ILO conventions is an essential requirement, and if they breach it, they will be excluded from the Program. All the farms taking part in the AAA Program are visited every year, at least once per year, and assessed against our core criteria and offered specific advice and support to make improvements. Child labor is therefore monitored as part of this process. In addition, compliance with the standards is verified by an independent third party, the Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN), who visit a sample of farms every year. A farm which is found not to comply with the child labor requirements of the AAA Program or ILO conventions will be excluded from the AAA Program until it demonstrates that it complies again with the AAA standards.