What are the OECD Guidelines?
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (PDF 1 MB) (OECD Guidelines) determine the standard of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) and were published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1976. They have since been updated a number of the times, the most recent version being released in 2011 following the addition of a chapter concerning human rights, widening the scope of the Guidelines to cover business relations including the supply chain, and the introduction of the concept of due diligence.
What do the OECD Guidelines concern?
The essential provisions of the Guidelines are found in the following chapters:
I. Concepts and Principles
The OECD Guidelines concern multinational enterprises in all areas of their activities. Companies should abide by national law, and in cases where it is contradictory to the Guidelines, aim to find the means of respecting them as broadly as possible without breaking local law.
II. General Policies
This chapters contains concrete guidance for enterprises and is particularily important as it gives the Guidelines a whole, while outlining the basic rules of the guidance found in proceeding chapters.
The aim of this chapter is promote fuller understanding of the manner in which multinational enterprises function. To allow for better understanding of their relations with society and the environment, enterprises should act transparently.
IV. Human Rights
This chapters defines specific guidelines concerning issues of human rights observance by enterprises.
V. Employment and Industrial Relations
Enterprises should, in accordance with appropriate legal rules, regulations, and existing labour relations, respect the right to establish and possess trade unions, contribute towards eliminating child and forced labour, and follow the principle of equal opportunity and treatment in their activities.
Enterprises should take into consideration the needs surrounding environmental protection, health, and public safety, as well as act in a manner contributing to the achievement of the broader aim of sustainable development.
VII. Combating Bribery, Bribe Solicitation and Extortion
Enterprises should not, neither directly nor indirectly, offer, promise, reward, or demand bribes and other undue benefits in the aims of attaining unfair trade advantages and other unfair benefits. Enterprises should also not accept nor extort bribes.
VIII. Consumer Interests
Within the range of contacts with consumers, enterprises should behave according to practices of fair trade, marketing, and advertising, and should undertake all rational steps towards ensuring quality and reliability of their offered products and services.
IX. Science and Technology
Enterprises should undertake all possible efforts to ensure their activities are accordant in the range of sience and technology with the policies of the countries in which they operate, and where possible should develop co-operation with local R&D institutions.
Enterprises should conduct their activities in a manner accordant with regulations stipulated by competition laws and defer from breaking the rules of competitiveness.
Enterprises should pay their tax dues in a timely fashion, in accordance with obligatory taxation regulations in the country where they operate. Enterprises should provide authorities with information allowing for proper tax assessments and avoid transfering gains/losses outside their country of operation in the aim of decreasing their tax burden.
Sectoral OECD Guidelines
For a full understanding of the OECD Guidelines within the scope of RBC, the OECD has published guidelines taking into account the activities of specific sectors: the extractive (PDF 2 MB), agricultural (PDF 4 MB), garment and footwear (PDF 3 MB), minerals from high-risk areas (PDF 2 MB), and financial (PDF 2 MB) sectors. These guidelines consitute a practical tool for enterprises. The guidance for the extractive sector also concerns due diligence within the range of engagement with stakeholders in the activities of this sector (available in Polish). It refers to enterprises operating in extraction, processing, transport, or storage of petroleum, natural gas, and mineral resources. Guidelines for the agricultural and garment-footwear sectors put particular emphasis on responsibility in supply chains. Guidelines for the financial sector concern issues relating to responsible financing.