Labour rights

We believe that BP’s employees, as well as our contractor and supplier workforces, should work in safe, healthy, secure and fair conditions

Our code of conduct and human rights policy together reinforce our commitment to freedom of association, equal opportunity and non-discrimination, as well as the elimination of all forms of modern slavery.


Through our code of conduct, employees are required to report any human rights abuse in either our operations or those of our business partners.

We are strengthening employee awareness of our human rights policy and potential human rights impacts relevant to our work. For example, we provide updates to our upstream procurement teams on legislative changes and recent media coverage of human rights cases specific to oil and gas companies.

We held more than 30 human rights training events for approximately 400 employees in 2016. Our training covers what human rights means in an operational context, as well as specific topics such as security and human rights, workforce rights and welfare, and relationships with indigenous peoples. Senior leadership teams also participate in awareness-raising training.

Working with contractors and suppliers

We operate in 72 countries around the world and have more than 72,000 suppliers with thousands more supporting them. We believe that people who work for our suppliers are entitled to do so under conditions that respect their rights and dignity.

We expect our contractors and their employees to act consistently with our code of conduct and our human rights policy. The standard model contracts that our procurement teams use when agreeing new contracts include requirements for our suppliers to respect internationally recognized human rights in their work for BP, with a specific prohibition on the use of forced or trafficked labour.

Drawing on our work with industry peers, we have developed a human rights due diligence process that can be used to screen suppliers in a consistent way anywhere in the world. We piloted this with potential suppliers in 2016 and are planning wider use in 2017.


We are taking a risk-based approach to monitoring our contractors and suppliers. When appropriate, we conduct labour rights audits that look into potential issues such as working hours, compensation, non-discrimination, prevention of forced labour and human trafficking, and other rights outlined in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

In 2016 our downstream business conducted audits to assess potential suppliers as part of our pre-qualification process. In our upstream business, we took steps to review human rights aspects of our spot-chartering activities in the North Sea.

Where we find an issue, we prefer to work with companies to resolve the problem rather than to terminate the contract. Otherwise, the situation of people whose rights are at risk may not improve and may even get worse. If a serious breach is found and no corrective action is taken following our intervention, then we reserve the right to terminate contracts.

In our biofuels business in Brazil, we use a tool to review contractor documentation, including policies governing human rights issues, copies of identification documents for age verification, and payslips and timesheets to check working hours and wage rates. This enables us to assess whether our contractors are respecting the labour rights of their employees.

Rights of contracted workforce

Around 70% of the hours worked in our upstream business are carried out by contractors. In 2016 we produced guidance for upstream projects detailing how BP’s existing processes can support the fair treatment of contracted workers. The guidance includes performance indicators that projects can consider to check that labour rights are respected, such as the number and type of worker grievances.

Related content