Core Labour Requirements

The protection of workers’ rights has always been part of FSC’s Principles and mandatory for forest management certificate holders.

In 2021 FSC introduced new core labour requirements, as part of the chain of custody certification standard, to provide added protection for the rights of workers in all FSC-certified operations.

2022_COMMS_Durango, Mexico_Media visit to  Grupo Industrial Sezaric y a sus ejidos (Ejido Salto de Camellones, Ejido Topia y el Predio particular Zaleas)_(c)FSC_ Jesús Antonio Moo Yam 29

I’m very proud of our collaboration with the other chambers of the FSC that has led to the recognition of fundamental workers’ rights under the FSC certification. This will be a game changer in the FSC-certified worksites as workers will be provided more mechanisms to exercise their rights to self-organisation, collective bargaining and safe and healthy workplaces,

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary, Building and Woodworkers’ International (Member of the FSC Social Chamber)


FSC chain of custody certificate holders are required to implement the FSC core labour requirements in their operations and must be able to demonstrate this to external third-party auditors.

To comply with the FSC core labour requirements, the organisation must:

  • Not use child labour.
  • Eliminate all forms of forced and compulsory labour.
  • Ensure that there is no discrimination in employment and occupation.
  • Respect freedom of association and the effective right to collective bargaining.

To implement the FSC core labour requirements, certificate holders need to:

  • adopt and implement policy statement(s) covering FSC core labour requirements; and
  • maintain an up-to-date self-assessment describing how they apply the FSC core labour requirements to their business (templates available).

​​​​​​The policy statement(s) is a simple and publicly available document that includes the FSC core labour requirements. Many organisations already have statements or policies in place that cover the principles and practices, and such statements and policies may be used to demonstrate compliance.

The self-assessment is the second mandatory document that an organisational must complete prior to the scheduled annual audit, in which it describes the application of the FSC core labour requirements to its business. The certification body then uses self-assessment to guide the audit and verification (in the field) of compliance with the standard.

Certificate holders may use an FSC approved verification scheme to demonstrate conformity with the FSC core labour requirements. FSC approved verification schemes are listed in the final section of ADVICE-40-004-24 in the FSC Directive on Chain of Custody Certification (FSC-DIR-40-004).

For the FSC core labour requirements, see the Chain of Custody standard (PART I, Chapter 7).



Certificate holders must conduct a self-assessment of their conformance with the FSC core labour requirements. To help this, FSC has developed some country-specific self-assessment templates that provide more details than the generic self-assessment form found in the chain of custody standard.

A self-assessment template is available to assist UK FSC certificate holders and organisations wishing to become certificate holders to demonstrate compliance with the requirements. Self-assessment templates for other countries can be found here.



2022_COMMS_Chen Venh and Ho forest, Vietnam_community forests in Viet Nam_(c)FSC_Phan Tan Lam

Who is considered a worker according to FSC certification?

FSC defines workers as follows:

"All employed persons, including public employees as well as ‘self-employed’ persons. This includes part-time and seasonal employees, of all ranks and categories, including labourers, administrators, supervisors, executives, contractor employees, self-employed contractors, and sub-contractors."

(Source: ILO Convention 155 Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981)


Core labour requirements for contractors

Certificate holders must include non-FSC-certified contractors, with whom they have an outsourcing agreement, within their self-assessment. The assessment must explain how the organisation has confirmed the subcontractor’s conformity to the FSC core labour requirements. Certificate holders should provide guidance on what evidence they need from contractors and how to provide information.

FSC-certified contractors are already audited against the core labour requirements and, in addition, are not required to sign an outsourcing agreement with the certificate holder.

Contractors who are certified by a verification scheme identified by FSC as equivalent to the FSC core labour requirements are exempt from inclusion is in self-assessments and certification bodies’ risk assessments (similar to FSC-certified contractors). FSC approved verification schemes are listed in the final section of ADVICE-40-004-24 in the FSC Directive on Chain of Custody Certification (FSC-DIR-40-004).

Further information regarding core labour requirements for FSC chain of custody certificate holders that outsource activities within the scope of their certification to non-FSC-CoC-certified contractors is provided in ADVICE-40-004-23 in the FSC Directive on Chain of Custody Certification (FSC-DIR-40-004).

Please also note the related Derogation FSC-DER-2024-002.


Core labour requirements guidance document
PDF, Size: 592.23KB
FSC UK Core Labour Requirements Self-assessment Template V1-1
PDF, Size: 175.08KB
Core labour requirements Q&A
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For any additional questions regarding the implementation of the FSC core labour requirements in the UK, contact us.