The American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Fair Labor Association’s ‘Apparel & Footwear Industry Commitment to Responsible Recruitment’ was founded to align the industry around a clear and resolute commitment to the fair treatment of foreign migrant workers in the global textiles, apparel, footwear, and travel goods supply chain.

Each signatory commits to working with its partners to create conditions where no worker pays for their job, where workers retain control of their travel documents and have full freedom of movement, and workers are informed of the basic terms of their employment before joining the workforce.

The enhanced Commitment to Responsible Recruitment builds on learnings over the past five years. Signatories now commit to create conditions where workers receive a timely refund of any fees and costs paid to obtain or maintain their job, if such conditions were already imposed.

The signing companies also agree to work to fully and effectively implement these practices, to incorporate the Commitment into their social compliance standards within one-year of signing, and to periodically report the signatory’s actions to imbed and implement the Commitment, such as through sustainability and/or modern slavery legal disclosures. Together with their members and Commitment signatories, AAFA and FLA will continue to review the enhanced Commitment to identify areas of future improvement.

“All workers must be treated with dignity and respect, period,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “Regrettably, migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to being abused, from having their passports and other travel documents withheld to being put in debt bondage or indentured servitude situations. By signing this Commitment, members of the textile, apparel, footwear, and travel goods industry are working to ensure that migrant workers are never put in these terrible situations and are fully and fairly compensated.”

Sharon Waxman, president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, added: “The new Commitment to Responsible Recruitment is vital to protecting migrant workers from recruitment debt that could lead to forced labor. By bringing together companies across the apparel and footwear industry, we help ensure that the employer pays for recruitment, not the workers. We are glad to see so many companies and their suppliers take these important steps and believe that the new provisions of the Commitment will drive real change for workers.”

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The launch took place this week on the sidelines of the Second Summit for Democracy as a reminder that the protection of labour rights is a key component of protecting democracy.