Establishing Malaysia’s First Multi-Stakeholder Child Labor Remediation Model

Although Malaysia has child protection mechanisms in place and has ratified major conventions on child labour, there are no formal structures in place to remediate actual cases of child labour. In industries such as palm oil where a substantial portion of the workforce are migrants and living in poverty, child labour is an ongoing challenge. About 33,600 children (nationwide) in the palm oil sector were found to be in child labour situations, according to the Employment Survey (2018) in Palm Oil Plantations by the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC). [1]

In addition to strengthening systems to help prevent child labour in the palm oil and garment industries, one of the main objectives of the MY Voice project is to increase access to remedy when cases of child labour occur. To achieve this, we are developing a Child Labour Remediation Hub that draws on an existing network of solution providers and resources that can be sustained and scaled over the long-term.

Child Labour Remediation Process

Child Labour Remediation Process
DISCOVERY
Suspected case of child labour discovered by an employer.
CONTACT REMEDIATION PROVIDER
Employer contacts third-party remediation solution provider.
RAPID ASSESSMENT AND REMEDIATION MODEL
At the individual level, the child is removed from the child labour situation and given access to education/skills training, health and survival allowance or offered non-hazardous work, if above the minimum working age.
At the employer level, the company is guided to take corrective actions to mitigate child labour risks and take remediation actions.
The community level intervention focuses on eradicating child labour through collective efforts such as income-generating activities.
SUPPORTED REMEDIATION PROCESS
Remediation is carried out with the support of independent child rights experts and case managers who ensure affected children have access to appropriate remedy and support.
  1. Suspected case of child labour discovered by an employer.
  2. Employer contacts third-party remediation solution provider.
  3. Solution provider conducts a rapid assessment and develops a remediation proposal. Proposal contents will vary based on the child’s age, type of work, and other contextual factors. All proposals will generally have three levels of intervention.
    • At the individual level, the child is removed from the child labour situation and given access to education/skills training, health and survival allowance or offered non-hazardous work, if above the minimum working age.
    • At the employer level, the company is guided to take corrective actions to mitigate child labour risks and take remediation actions.
    • The community level intervention focuses on eradicating child labour through collective efforts such as income-generating activities.
  4. Remediation is carried out with the support of independent child rights experts and case managers who ensure affected children have access to appropriate remedy and support.

A Remediation Approach Focused on the Best Interest of the Child

The MY Voice Child Labour Remediation Hub is grounded in 11 key due diligence principles for child labour remediation, developed by The Centre for Child Rights and Business, one of the MY Voice project implementation partners. These principles recognize that child rights should come first, and commercial interests or other considerations should not be prioritized over children’s well-being. The principles map out the responsibility of companies, which include:

  • establishing a comprehensive child labour policy,
  • implementing multi-tiered supply chain monitoring in all sourcing countries,
  • adapting monitoring programs to address specific risks,
  • proactively preventing practices that increase child labour risk, and
  • establishing a remediation mechanism to ensure appropriate remedies for victims of child labour.

These principles are further reinforced by the growing international regulations and expectations for human rights due diligence. As these continue to grow and mature, employers across industries and countries will be increasingly expected to develop child labour prevention and remediation plans.
According to the principles, governments also play a crucial role. Companies are encouraged to share information on cases with government agencies and potentially integrate child labour victims into government-run structures. However, these actions should only be pursued if the services are accessible, effective, transparent, and guarantee the well-being of the child.

MY Voice Remediation Hub Partners

The Child Labour Remediation Hub embraces a network-based structure that seeks collaboration and input from the following partners:

  • Case Managers: qualified individuals trained by MY Voice to undertake rapid assessments, write remediation proposals and monitor and report until the case is resolved.
  • Solution Providers: vendors or third-party service providers that support essential elements of child labour remediation, such as schools or learning centres, shelters, health services, and others.
  • Remediation Hub Partners: companies that sign a formal agreement with MY Voice. MY Voice guarantees immediate response to suspected/reported child labour cases in their supply chain and support through the remediation process.
Photo of several people seated in a conference room with a woman standing and speaking into a microphone in front.
Workshop held in Kuala Lumpur to validate the MY Voice Remediation Hub Model.

Companies bear responsibility for the costs of remediation and for some in-kind support, but the Remediation Hub and MY Voice support these partners with:

  • Escalation pathways—case management services for identified cases of child labour;
  • Child labour rapid assessments; and
  • Child labour prevention and remediation policies and guidelines;
  • Capacity building and technical assistance;
  • Emergency funding—an important cost-sharing element to ensure sustainability of the program.

What’s Next?

Following validation workshops in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah in October-November 2023, MY Voice will pilot the Child Labour Remediation Hub in 2024. This will include capacity building for key actors, in particular case managers, who will take the lead in remediating cases. Social dialogue sessions on access to remedy will be organized to raise awareness.

If you are interested in our initiative and/or want to become a Remediation Hub Partner, please reach out to us at contact@myvoiceproject.org.


[1] Wahab, A., & Abd Razak, M. F. (2022, September 26). Situation Analysis: Labour Issues in the Palm Oil Sector, Sabah, Malaysia.

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