New Zealand National Contact Point for responsible business conduct - OECD guidelines for multi-national enterprises

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) produces voluntary guidelines and recommendations on responsible, sustainable multi-national business conduct.

The guidelines

The OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct (the guidelines) are recommendations from governments to companies about conduct across 9 themes:

  • disclosure
  • human rights
  • employment and industrial relations
  • environment
  • combating bribery and other forms of corruption
  • consumer interests
  • science, technology and innovation
  • competition
  • taxation. 

OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct(external link)  — OECD

Companies are encouraged to perform risk-based due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how they address actual and potential adverse impacts on these areas covered by the guidelines.

The standards of behaviour and good practice are additional to the laws of the countries where a business operates, however they are not legally enforceable and don't override or substitute local laws.

All OECD members are committed to promote the guidelines within their jurisdictions.

Why they are important

The OECD guidelines are the most comprehensive government backed standard on responsible business conduct (RBC). RBC builds trust and confidence in businesses and markets, which encourages investment and contributes to economic growth. The guidelines set out the expectation that the private sector grow their business responsibly by integrating the management of risks to the environment, people and society. They encourage the positive contributions businesses can make by promoting human rights, following sustainable practices and boosting social development around the world.

The guidelines are unique because they cover all major areas of business ethics including information disclosure, human rights, employment and labour, environment, anti-corruption, and consumer interests. The guidelines also encompass science and technology, competition, and taxation which are not as fully covered by other international standards.

For more information about RBC and why the guidelines are important see: 

MNE guidelines, RBC matters [PDF, 5.2MB](external link)  — OECD 

Who should use them

The guidelines have been designed for multinational enterprises such as a New Zealand company that also operates overseas, or a foreign company operating in New Zealand. The guidelines can also be used to guide domestic businesses activity, particularly those that are part of international supply chains.

Watch the video:

Responsible business conduct, the new normal for a sustainable future(external link)  — YouTube

2023 guideline updates

The guidelines were updated in 2023. 3 webinars providing guidance on the updates have been released by the OECD.

What's new in the OECD guidelines and why does it matter?(external link)  — YouTube

A public webinar held by the OECD setting out what’s new in the guidelines and why the changes matter. The webinar features stakeholders and policymakers who engage in a forward-looking conversation on implementation and next steps for bringing the new guidelines to life.

Recoding our understanding of RBC in Science, Tech and Innovation: What’s new in the OECD MNE guidelines?(external link)  — YouTube

The updated OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct have been adopted, with big changes in the chapter on Science, Technology and Innovation and new clarity for companies on their responsibilities. This webinar digs deeper into what these changes mean, how our understanding of the issues has evolved, and to look at how governments, companies and the OECD are already taking steps to put these new expectations into practice.

Scaling up credible business action on climate: What’s new in the OECD MNE guidelines?(external link)  — YouTube

In June 2023, the OECD updated the guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct, making them the first internationally agreed standard for how businesses should address climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Watch this webinar to find out what it means in practice, how it relates to net zero targets, the implications for conducting environmental due diligence and more. This webinar unpacks the new provisions of the guidelines’ Environment Chapter and what they mean for businesses and ultimately for people and planet.

National Contact Point

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is Aotearoa New Zealand’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the guidelines. The role of the National Contact Point is to promote the guidelines and due diligence guidance, as well as ensuring policy cohesion and managing complaints of alleged breaches of the guidelines. Complaints are known as specific instances.

A liaison group of representatives from government agencies and non-government organisations support the National Contact Point and meets twice a year.

Web version of the Terms of reference for the NZNCP liaison group

The group helps promote and raise awareness of the guidelines through its members’ networks. It may also act as a source of advice and assistance in handling of inquiries or complaints made under the guidelines.

Meet the National Contact Points for responsible business conduct (NCPs)(external link)  — YouTube

Complaints (specific instances)

Although the guidelines are voluntary, they provide a process to raise complaints about an enterprise’s activity and behaviour.

Complaints can be made to the NCP about either:

  • a foreign or NZ Multinational Enterprise operating in NZ
  • a NZ Multinational Enterprise operating overseas, including in a country that is not an adherent to the guidelines.

The New Zealand National Contact Point will examine the Complaint and may facilitate mediation to resolve it in line with the Rules of Procedure.

This process is non-judicial and National Contact Points cannot compel parties to participate or impose sanctions. Where parties do not participate, the National Contact Point may make a statement on whether the Complaint is substantiated.

Making a complaint

Anyone affected by a multinational enterprise’s activity who has sufficient knowledge about the alleged breach of the guidelines can make a complaint. Complaints can be made by an individual, an employee or their trade union, iwi, hapu, community or an NGO.

Complaints can be submitted to the New Zealand National Contact Point by completing the complaint submission form and emailing it to the address below.

The complaint (specific instances) process

When the New Zealand National Contact Point receives a complaint, it triggers the specific instance process.

Specific instance process flowchart

National Contact Point peer review

In late 2022, New Zealand’s National Contact Point was peer reviewed. See below to read the review.

Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises National Contact Point peer reviews NZ [PDF, 749KB](external link) — OECD

Supporting tools and resources

The OECD has developed a range of tools and resources to help multinational enterprises and stakeholders interpret and apply specific aspects of the guidelines.

Due diligence

The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for responsible business conduct provides practical support to enterprises on understanding and implementing due diligence.

OECD Due Diligence Guidance for responsible business conduct [PDF, 2.3MB](external link)  — OECD

Sectoral guidance has been developed to help enterprises identify and address risks to people, the environment and society associated with business operations, products or services in particular sectors including:

Agricultural sector(external link)  — OECD
Financial sector(external link)  — OECD
Extractive sector(external link)  — OECD
Mineral sector(external link)  — OECD
Child labour risks in the minerals supply chain(external link)  — OECD
Textile, garment and footwear sectors(external link)  — OECD
Sports sector(external link)  — OECD

OECD e-learning Academy on responsible business conduct

The OECD e-learning Academy on responsible business conduct (RBC) provides learners and stakeholders with a unique opportunity to advance their knowledge of responsible business conduct and OECD risk-based due diligence at no cost.

 Through the Essentials of OECD Due Diligence for RBC course, you will learn about:

  • international expectations on RBC and why business should care
  • characteristics of the OECD due diligence approach include how it can be tailored to a company’s circumstances
  • key elements of OECD risk-based due diligence include recommendations to prioritise risks and engage with stakeholders for effective due diligence.

Sector specific e-learning is available on:

  • OECD Due Diligence for Agriculture and Seafood Supply Chains
  • OECD Due Diligence for Garment and Footwear Supply Chains
  • OECD Due Diligence for Electronics and Vehicle Parts Supply Chains.

Register here:

Guidelines for MNEs - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(external link)  — OECD

Other resources

Risk Awareness Tool for multinational enterprises in weak governance zones [PDF, 636KB](external link)  — OECD

Resources on responsible business conduct and digitalisation [PDF, 5MB](external link)  — OECD

Overview on the OECD’s work on responsible business conduct and issues related to gender [PDF, 1,535KB](external link) — OECD

Resources on responsible business conduct and climate change(external link)  — OECD

Resources on responsible business conduct and public procurement(external link)  — OECD

Contact details for other OECD members’ National Contact Points can be found here:

National Contact Points - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(external link)  — OECD

Final statements for specific instance complaints

New Zealand's annual reports to the OECD

Last updated: 20 March 2024