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OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises Summary Brochure
The Australian National Contact Point

OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises Summary Brochure [PDF 1.6MB]

What are the guidelines?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines) provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in areas such as:

  • human rights
  • employment and industrial relations
  • environment
  • combating bribery, bribe solicitation and extortion
  • consumer interests
  • science and technology
  • competition
  • taxation.

The Guidelines aim to develop a sustainable approach to business conduct and to promote mutual confidence between multinational enterprises and the communities in which they operate.

What do the guidelines mean for companies?

The OECD Guidelines are recommendations on responsible business conduct by governments, including Australia, to multinational enterprises. They are not legally binding and are not a substitute for, nor do they override, Australian law.

Companies operating in Australia and Australian companies operating overseas are expected to act in accordance with the Guidelines and to perform to - at minimum - the standards they suggest.

The Guidelines:

  • are a useful aid to business in developing their own code of conduct
  • are complementary to other initiatives on corporate responsibility, including domestic and international law in specific areas such as human rights and bribery
  • provide an informal structure for resolving issues that may arise in relation to implementation of the Guidelines in specific instance complaints.

The Australian Government is committed to promoting the use of the Guidelines and their effective and consistent implementation. Through business cooperation and support, the Guidelines can positively influence business conduct and, ultimately economic, environmental and social progress.

The Australian National Contact Point

The Australian National Contact Point (ANCP) is a Senior Executive of the Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division at the Australian Government's Department of the Treasury. The ANCP is assisted by Treasury and draws on expertise from other government agencies through an informal inter-governmental network.

The role of the ANCP is to promote the Guidelines to the business community, employee organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and other stakeholders. The ANCP also holds discussions with stakeholders, including multinational enterprises, businesses, NGOs, and other government departments and agencies, on matters relating to the Guidelines.

In addition to promoting the Guidelines, it is the job of the ANCP to consider allegations (special instance complaints) that a multinational enterprise's behaviour is inconsistent with the Guidelines.

How can a complaint be made?

A complaint can be raised if a multinational enterprise is believed to have breached the Guidelines. Complaints are made to the National Contact Point of the country in which the breaches of the Guidelines are alleged to have taken place or in the home country of the multinational corporation. When complaints are raised with the ANCP, they will offer a forum for discussion and assist the parties concerned to deal with the issues in an efficient and timely manner.

Initial Assessment

The ANCP will make an initial assessment of the complaint by taking into account:

  • whether the issue is material and substantiated
  • the level of documentary evidence available
  • the relevance of applicable laws and procedures
  • how similar issues have been, or are being, treated in domestic or international proceedings.

Further Examination

If the issue raised does warrant further examination, the ANCP will offer assistance to help resolve the issues. In doing so, the ANCP will consult with the multinational enterprise and may:

  • seek advice from relevant authorities, representatives of the business community, employee organisations, other NGOs, and relevant experts
  • consult the National Contact Point in the other country or countries concerned
  • seek the guidance of the OECD Investment Committee if there is doubt about the interpretation of the Guidelines in particular circumstances
  • facilitate access to consensual and non-adversarial means of resolution, such as conciliation or mediation.

The success of the additional examination will depend on the level of confidentiality required and level of cooperation from all parties concerned.

No Agreement Reached

If the parties do not reach agreement or find a positive way forward, the ANCP will issue a statement making recommendations on the implementation of the Guidelines. Should a multinational enterprise choose not to participate in a specific instance complaint review, the ANCP may name that corporation in the final statement.

Confidentiality

Information which is communicated to the ANCP with regards to a complaint (including parties to the submission, the enterprise concerned, and other parties with whom the ANCP consult) will be treated confidentially by the ANCP. The information provided by each party may be communicated to any other party during the process of an assessment, but only with the prior consent of the party who provided the information. If such information is provided, it will be on the condition that it is kept confidential for the period of the assessment.

Parties should be aware that information and documents provided to the ANCP will be subject to the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, and could be released to an applicant under that Act, unless it was exempt from production. Parties should also be aware that the Commonwealth Parliament can seek the production of information and documents from the ANCP.

Generally, the ANCP will not identify the parties to any specific instance complaint until a final statement closing the matter is made. The ANCP may then consider it appropriate to identify the parties to the complaint.

A full explanation of the complaint process, together with the ANCP's statements, and the outcome of any follow-up action are published on the AusNCP website.

Complaint Process at a Glance

Complaint Process

Contact

For more information, or for copies of the Guidelines, please contact:

The Australian National Contact Point
c/- The Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division
The Treasury
Langton Crescent
Parkes ACT 2600

email: ancp@treasury.gov.au
phone: +61 2 6263 3795
fax: +61 2 6263 2940