2 October 2019

Guideline on the prevention of child labour

Reading time: 4 min.

Although child labour is banned worldwide, one child in ten is still affected. Some children are forced to work, some are helping their families to survive and in some cases child labour has cultural roots. Combating child labour is therefore a major challenge, and one that the REWE Group is addressing. REWE wants to prevent any form of child labour in its supply chains.


Throughout the world, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are currently working to provide for themselves and their families. Child workers who are not enslaved or involved in prostitution are usually working in agriculture – often under great physical stress and at significant risk of contact with dangerous pesticides. In most cases, moreover, they remain illiterate. Preventing child labour requires effective laws – and education. Yet both are lacking in many of the countries where child labour occurs, countries in which the REWE Group, too, purchases raw materials. The risk of child labour is especially high in the production and processing of cocoa, coffee, cotton, fruits and vegetables, textiles and natural stone.

Our goals

To combat child labour in its brands’ supply chains, the REWE Group has set itself five goals: Its guidelines on preventing child labour are to be distributed to all current and new business partners. They, in turn, must communicate the guidelines to their production facilities. By 2025, a grievance mechanism is to be established for all relevant suppliers that specifically addresses the issue of child labour. By 2030, the relevant production sites of strategically important suppliers are to undergo training, and the topic of child labour is to be included in the Capacity Building Programme. In addition, the company intends to devote more attention to unauthorised subcontracts and to work toward ensuring that existing as well as new projects pay a living wage.

Our measures

To achieve its goals, the REWE Group purchases certified raw materials for the production of coffee, cocoa and cotton, for example, meaning that certain standards have been set for the prevention of child labour. This, as well as compliance with the ILO’s core labour standards for fruit and vegetable producers, is monitored through audits. The REWE Group has also integrated into its social improvement programme all production sites at the first level of the supply chain in specified risk countries. The sites are made aware of the REWE Group’s requirements concerning child labour. They must carry out audits according to recognised standards and participate in training sessions. Furthermore, the REWE Group has drawn up a set of measures, including requiring its business partners to appoint a person to take responsibility for preventing child labour, conducting age checks, and having subcontractors approved by the REWE Group. If the company finds that child labour is in fact taking place, it works with the Centre for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR) to find a comprehensive solution. Business partners must correct their internal procedures and provide financial support for the affected child until that child has reached the minimum age for employment.