Transnational Company Agreements

Employers’ organizations

Transnational Company Agreements

Building management knowledge and capacity

Transnational Company Agreements

Business social responsibility is under the spotlight since many years, notably due to increased globalization and the emergence of multinational companies. Companies face pressure on their operations from markets but also from a variety of social actors. 

Many leading companies have moved from viewing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a philanthropic cause to making it a core pillar of their strategic decision-making process, as well as a part of their day to day operations. However, the way in which companies express their commitment to CSR differs and depends for example of their size, sector of activity, market place etc.

  • A certain number of companies have chosen to consider the governance of their global operations in partnership with global, European and national trade unions and workers’ representatives through the adoption of a Transnational Company Agreements (TCAs). To date, slightly more than 270 of these agreements have been signed in around 160 companies worldwide. 
  • Some companies decided to adhere to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact initiative (around 8000 business participants), follow existing international frameworks such as the OECD Guidelines for MNEs or unilaterally take over key principles on fundamental social rights in their own codes of conduct or CSR policy tools.  


Policy debates on CSR have taken a new turn in the last 5 years with a number of International Organizations attempting to define in greater details companies’ obligations to respect Human and Social Rights as well as Industrial Relations.

Today, companies of all sizes are under increased pressure to show how they are respecting human rights as well as improving corporate social performance more broadly. One expectation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is that companies will fulfil their obligation to respect human rights by undertaking appropriate due diligence.

In the European context, the Commission has endorsed the UN Guiding Principles in its CSR strategy and committed to support their implementation. It has also called on each EU Member State to develop a national action plan, spreading the debate on CSR and Business and Human Rights to the local level. 

These new developments have a number of important consequences for the business world as they imply

  • a broadening of the scope of corporate responsibilities;
  • an expansion of the role of governments in defining CSR, as well as
  • a stark change in business to business relations in the supply chain: it is now common practice that large firms demand that their suppliers comply with codes of conduct, covering notably social practices, in an effort to fulfill their due diligence obligations while SMEs are faced with important operational challenges in complying with these new obligations.
Training project

Against this background, the Programme for Employers' Activities of the ITCILO, in partnership with BDA, MEDEF, CEOE, DI and Confindustria and with the active support of both BUSINESSEUROPE and the IOE, decided to develop a project aiming at  strengthening management representatives’ capacity to make better informed decisions when engaging in and implementing TCAs, through the development and exchange of knowledge, tools and practices.

The project started in 2012 and had different phases.

A list of past activities for phase III (2015-2016) can be found here.

More information on current activities (phase IV 2017-2018) as well as the training material developed throughout the project can be found below :

21 Junio 2017

Venue: Copenhagen, Denmark - National partner: DI 

24 Abril 2018

Venue: Madrid, Spain- National partner: CEOE

3 Junio 2018

Venue: Berlin, Germany - National partner: BDA

13 Noviembre 2018

Venue: Rome, Italy - National partner: Confindustria

training material
Training material
Virtual space
Virtual space

A virtual space is opened for registered participants to the activities, granting access to more information and to the workshops' material

More information on Workshops

This project entails a series of five workshops for Employers’ Organizations and Companies to be organized throughout 2017 and 2018. 

Seminar on Transnational Company Agreements (TCAs): Issues, Approaches and Current Practices

Audience: Employer Organizations and Company representatives

More information on Training Material

The eLearning module is a reference tool. It aims at helping company or employer organizations' representatives:

• Increase their knowledge on the different policy instruments at UN and EU levels on CSR, Business and Human Rights;

• Understand the main commonalities and differences in terms of both process and content between these instruments;

• Identify which corporate responsibilities regarding CSR & Human Rights stem from the instruments and how companies can meet their obligations.

The eLearning Module has been published in June 2015. It is available in English, French and Spanish. To access the eLearning Module.

click here

The Guide gives practical advice to companies on how to respond to the challenges they face in the field of CSR and Human Rights. Given the all-encompassing nature of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, they are taken as a reference point in the Guide. 

The Guide has been published in October 2015. Click here to download the guide

The guide is a practical tool that provides facts and figures on TCAs with best practices and concrete examples of employers that signed TCAs, as well as of those that preferred not to. In particular, the guide shares the reasoning of these companies as a way to help others that are going through a similar process. It also lists a series of issues that companies and employers should look out for and be aware of when engaging in TCAs.

The guide has was published in April 2018.  Click here to download the guide

During a previous phase of the project, another Publication had been released on the  Key issues for management to consider with regard to Transnational Company Agreements (TCAs) (December 2010). 

The Publication can be downloaded in English or in French.

Activities 2015-2016

The project entailed a series of seven training workshops for Employers’ Organizations and Companies which were organized throughout 2015 and 2016 (phase III). 

Three different types of workshops were implemented for a total number of seven activities over a two year period. Inputs given during the training workshops were different each time enabling to explore a large number of facets regarding transnational agreements, their objectives, opportunities and drawbacks as well as the overall context in which they have been concluded and are implemented. This also enabled to attract to the workshops different groups of people, professional background and nationalities.

New training material was developed to support the activities, notably on the linkages between TCAs and the current policy debates on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as Business and Human Rights. Two major products came out of the project: an "eLearning Module on CSR, Business and Human Rights instruments" as well as a "Guide on CSR and Human Rights - what does it mean for companies in supply chains?". By attending the workshops, participants were given access to comprehensive and high level information and practices concerning TCAs, and the debates currently taking place at national, EU and International level both in political circles and in companies. This evidence-based approach added value and a very practical element to the training experience that was very much appreciated by the target group.

The project and the different workshops held have raised further awareness among the business and employers' organization community on the nature, opportunities and challenges related with TCAs. The workshops helped demystify and clarify doubts or misconceptions concerning these types of processes. It was made clear during the workshops that while TCAs have an enormous potential of growth, being today still a minority phenomenon, their added value is not only to reaffirm the importance of social rights and social dialogue, but also to devise implementation and monitoring processes aimed at rendering them effective. One of the main benefits of the activities was to explain, in practical and very accurate terms, how the debates on TCAs at International, European and national levels are intertwined with debates on the role of business in society and the implementation of a number of international/European/national Guidelines, Principles and standards defining corporate responsibility in the social/human rights fields. Many discussions shed light on the practical implications of due diligence obligations for companies. All this contributed to a better definition and subsequent creation of new areas of intervention and services by Employers' organizations in Europe.