Mapping Study on Worker Feedback and Grievance Mechanisms in the Informal Sector

Terms of Reference

 Mapping Study on Worker Feedback and Grievance Mechanisms in the Informal Sector



Partnership to Eliminate Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products: Piloting the USDA Guidelines in the Hazelnuts Supply Chain in Turkey


Cooperative Agreement Number: IL-28101-15-75-K-11

Financing Agency: U.S. Department of Labor

Type of Consultancy: Mapping Study on Worker Feedback and Grievance Mechanisms in the Informal Sector

Preparation Date of TOR: November 06, 2017



  1. Background and Justification


The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) leads the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) efforts to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. ILAB’s mission is to improve global working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers’ ability to exercise their rights, and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations. The Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT), an office within ILAB, has as its mission to promote the elimination of child labor and forced labor through policy, research, and technical assistance projects.


1.1 Partnership to Eliminate Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products: Piloting the USDA Guidelines: Hazelnut Supply Chain in Turkey


The USDOL-ILAB awarded the Fair Labor Association (FLA) a cooperative agreement to pilot a comprehensive, sustainable program to pilot the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Guidelines for Eliminating Child and Forced Labor in Agricultural Supply Chains (hereinafter the USDA Guidelines). The Guidelines recommend a set of practices for independent third-party monitoring and verification for the production, processing and distribution of agricultural products or commodities to reduce the likelihood that such products or commodities imported into the United States are produced by child labor and/or forced labor. The USDA Guidelines correspond very closely to the methodology developed and applied by the FLA during the last decade in performing labor rights due diligence on the supply chain of its affiliated companies. The FLA is partnering with multinational food company Nestlé and its two main hazelnut suppliers in Turkey, Balsu and Olam, for this 31-month project that started in November 2015 and will end in June 2018.


The main objective of the project is to design and pilot a comprehensive, sustainable program for Nestlé, Olam and Balsu that implements all elements of the USDA Guidelines. More specifically the objectives of the project are to:


(1) Develop a program to reduce child labor and forced labor in the hazelnut supply chain in Turkey;

(2) To undertake research, evaluation, and collection of reliable data on child labor and forced labor that informs the pilot program and makes it relevant and needs based; and

(3) Draw lessons learned from the pilot program and disseminate them to promote wider implementation of the USDA Guidelines in other supply chains and in other locations.


The project will focus on identification of institutional strengths of the companies and point out the areas that need to be strengthened further to implement the USDA Guidelines in order to ensure that companies’ institutional capacity increases to address child labor and forced labor in their supply chains. The pilot to implement the USDA Guidelines will address the issues of child and forced labor in 1,000 hazelnut gardens in the regions of Ordu, Duzce and Sakarya in Turkey that currently supply hazelnuts to Olam and Balsu.


The project activities aim to pilot child labor and forced labor monitoring systems through facilitating partnerships with business, local and national governmental programs and interventions of civil society organizations in the project locations.


  1. Aim and Scope of the Assignment


One of the key features of the USDA Guidelines is for companies to establish a functioning Workers’ Feedback and Grievance Mechanism through which they can continuously monitor for working conditions in their supply chains. Companies participating in this project have established international and national hotline numbers for the workers through which workers can contact them. However, it only serves as a one-way communication channel and has never been used by the workers. Hence, the project partners seek to identify best practices and case studies that exist globally in the agriculture sector on two or three-way communication channels for worker feedback and grievance mechanisms.


The objective of the mapping study is to document workers’ feedback and grievance mechanisms existing in up to ten[1] case studies in global agricultural supply chains and to identify best practices. The findings of this study will contribute to project partners’ efforts to design a well-functioning feedback and grievance mechanism in Turkey’s hazelnut sector by bringing together lessons drawn from different feedback and grievance systems experiences and making recommendations on what model might be suited for various supply chain structures and for hazelnuts in Turkey. This study will also enhance USDOL’s and FLA’s overall understanding on the models that are suited for various agricultural commodities.


It is expected that the research will investigate mechanisms designed for different agricultural commodities such as cocoa, hazelnut, palm oil, seafood, bananas, flowers, tea, sugarcane, coffee, seeds, and strawberries in various countries. The research team will select mechanisms to investigate in consultation with FLA.


With respect to each of the selected feedback and grievance mechanisms, the study will explore:

  • The main elements and principles,
  • The actors involved in its implementation,
  • The specific supply chain where it is applied and its scope,
  • The structures of supply chain where it is installed,
  • The extent to which it captures workers’ voices,
  • The nature of complaints and feedback received,
  • The complaints redressal mechanism,
  • Use of technology
  • Overall strengths and weaknesses of the mechanism,
  • Lessons that can be drawn from the case for Turkey’s hazelnut sector


More specifically, key research questions will include:


  • What are the core elements of a workers’ feedback and grievance system?
    • Which elements are essential? Which elements are optional?
  • How is the scope of the grievance mechanism determined?
  • What are the priorities of workers in feedback and grievance systems?
    • How does the feedback and grievance system address the issue of anonymous complaints?
    • What are the measures to ensure non-retaliation against complainants?
  • Which actors are involved in the system?
    • Who runs the system? Who else takes part in processes?
    • What are the roles and responsibilities of these actors throughout the processes?
    • What is the grievance redressal mechanism? How does the company get in touch with the complainant and how is the issues resolved, documented and feeds to improve the systems itself?
  • What types of processes are available under the mechanism and how do these operate?
    • Is there a verification process? How does it work?
  • What is the role of technology at present and what role it can potentially play?
  • What lessons can be drawn for Turkey’s hazelnut sector? In terms of:
    • Core system elements
    • Essential and optional actors to be involved, their roles and responsibilities (including hazelnut companies, farmers and local authorities)
    • Potential tools and formats to collect feedback and complaints
    • Key processes


  1. Conduct of the Assignment


To conduct this study, the FLA seeks to engage one or more third party expert consultants (the Sub-contractor) to provide the required services. This will be done mainly by conducting desk-based reviews of different cases in various countries. Interviews with organizations currently operating feedback and grievance systems on the ground will compliment the desk research, though the sample size and interview numbers will be limited.


First, using desk research techniques, the Sub-contractor will conduct a thorough documentation review of the existing literature, reports, databases, websites related to the grievance mechanism in various agriculture commodities.  Second, the Sub-contractor will compare and contrast each of the system, drawing out the strengths and weaknesses of each. Third and as a complimentary phase, the Sub-contractor will interview a group of experts – academics as well as practitioners – to identify best practices. Fourth, the Sub-contractor will prepare a written report that analyzes the different agricultural feedback and grievance system and identify best practices with regard to feedback and grievance systems.


3.1 Timeline


FLA foresees that the preparations for the study, including methodology development, would be undertaken during the first half of December 2017, in close cooperation with the FLA Project Team. Data collection is expected to take place between December 2017-February 2018. The FLA expects that the first draft of the report to be submitted by March 10, 2018, and the final version by March 30, 2018 that will accommodate feedback from the FLA and USDOL.


3.2 Primary Data Sources:


Potential target groups to gather information using interview techniques may be as below:


  • Workers groups/unions
  • Appropriate supplier firm staff
  • Relevant stakeholders (civil society organizations, government officials, labor contractors, intermediaries/manavs.
  • Relevant staff members from companies
  • Academicians
  • Relevant UN agencies


  1. Deliverables / Outputs


Report and recommendations in draft form will be provided to the FLA for comments and clarifications by March 10, 2018. The report will be in narrative form, in the English language.  It will incorporate statistics, tables and graphs, as appropriate, and will be accompanied by relevant attachments or annexes. FLA will make comments within 10 days.  FLA will be responsible for collecting feedback from the USDOL. Upon receiving feedback from the FLA, a revised version (final) of the report will be submitted by March 30, 2018.


4.1 Timeline


Preparatory work on the mapping study on worker feedback and grievance mechanism in informal sector is anticipated to begin in December 2017 and be completed by the end of March 2018. A detailed timeline with intermediate outputs will be decided with the sub-contractor upon the presentation of a methodology and research approach.


  1. Requirements from The Sub-Contractor


The mapping study on worker feedback and grievance mechanisms in the informal sector requires the following competencies and skills:


  • Extensive experience on worker feedback and grievance mechanism in informal sectors
  • Expertise on sustainability issues in the corporate sector, particularly the agricultural sector
  • Experience in doing desk research,
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Record of delivering quality written products
  • Interviewing skills
  • Research skills


The Sub-contractor is expected to submit its proposal regarding the mapping study on Worker Feedback and Grivience Mechanism in the Informal Sector to the FLA by December 4, 2017. The proposal will be reviewed by the FLA, USDOL and the Project Partners and feedback will be provided to the Sub-contractor by December 8 , 2017.  The proposal should include the following elements:


  • the anticipated draft timeline,
  • expected activities and deliverables,
  • proposed methodology and brief description of the tools,
  • brief background of the team members,
  • Sample report
  • budget


The proposal should list an overview of the grievance mechanism channels that will be studied. For e.g.




Please submit your application in English to Ms. Hande Özhabes (

The Sub-contractor will be subject to rules and regulations and audit as per USDOL Management and Procedures Guidelines. FLA is responsible for the Sub-contractor’s expenditure of funds, financial management and compliance with USDOL and Federal Regulations.












This Confidentiality Agreement (the “Agreement”) is made by and between the Fair Labor Association (the “Association”) and  (“Sub-contractor”).

As a condition of sub – grant with the Association, the Sub-contractor agrees as follows:



1.1. Association Information. At all times Sub-contractor will hold in strictest confidence, and not use, except for the benefit of the Association, or disclose to any third party other than as may be authorized by the Association, any “Confidential Information.” “Confidential Information” means any information (including any tangible embodiments thereof) used in the Association’s business that is disclosed by the Association to Sub-contractor, developed by Sub-contractor for the Association, or to which Sub-contractor otherwise has access while engaged by the Association, directly or indirectly, whether in writing, orally, by observation or in any other form or manner. Confidential Information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the Association’s research or development efforts, methods, trade secrets, data, designs, know- how, inventions, discoveries, processes, technology, computer software, product or marketing plans, information concerning the Association’s vendor or customer relationships or finances, cost and price information, investments, and any other information concerning the Association’s operations or affairs. Confidential Information includes confidential information that the Association has received, or in the future will receive, from its Participating Companies, non- governmental organizations and other third parties.

1.2. Returning Association Documents. Upon the completion of the project for which Sub-contractor has been engaged, and at any other time upon the Association’s request, Sub-contractor will deliver to the Association (and not retain any copies of, recreate or deliver to anyone else or use) any and all embodiments of Confidential Information, records, notes, correspondence, reports, manuals, software, passwords, (including digital data on Association-provided computers) and any other documents or property, including copies of any of the foregoing, provided by the Association, developed by Sub-contractor in whole or in part in connection with Sub-contractor’s engagement by the Association, or otherwise belonging to the Association.



2.1. Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the District of Columbia, without regard to its conflict of laws principles.

2.2. Severability. Sub-contractor agrees that the provisions of this Agreement are severable, and the unenforceability of any provision of this Agreement is not intended to and shall not affect the enforceability of the remainder of this Agreement. Sub-contractor acknowledges and agrees that it is Sub-contractor’s intention that if any provision of this Agreement is determined by a court to be unenforceable as drafted, that provision should be construed in a manner designed to effectuate the purpose of that provision to the greatest extent possible under applicable law.

2.3. Remedies for Breach. Sub-contractor acknowledges and agrees that a breach of any of the covenants or representations in this Agreement may be grounds for termination by the Association of the engagement. Sub-contractor also acknowledges and agrees that it may be difficult to measure damages to the Association for a breach of one of the promises set forth in this Agreement and that therefore there may not be an adequate remedy for such breach.  Sub-contractor acknowledges and agrees that if Sub-contractor materially breaches any part of this Agreement, the Association shall be entitled, in addition to all other remedies it may have in law and in equity, to injunctions or other appropriate relief by Sub-contractor without showing or proving any actual damage sustained by the Association.




[1] A maximum of 10 cases are expected to be covered within the scope of the study. The research team may propose to concentrate on fewer than 10 cases by submitting their reasons for doing so and providing evidence that selected cases would be adequate to cover research needs and to meet expectations of FLA.