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Frequently asked questions

Who can file a complaint?
Which NCP to contact?
What is the geographic reach of the NCPs?
How do I file a complaint with an NCP?
Is legal representation required?
Are there any costs for submitting a complaint?
What to expect from submitting a complaint to an NCP?
What if there are suspicions of retaliation?
What are the steps for handling a Specific Instance?
Are the cases public?

13/04/2023 - UGT | What is expected from the stakeholders regarding the implementation and monitoring of the PT NCP? What are the procedures of the process?

The structure of the PT NCP evolved from mono-agency to inter-agency in 2009, when, in addition to the governmental area of foreign affairs, it also integrated the governmental area of economy. In order to improve the representativeness of all interested parties, in particular of the parties which represent workers, the possibility of the PT NCP structure integrating the labour governance area is being assessed. Besides this change, the creation of a Advisory Council is being analyzed, which would include other governmental areas and representatives of civil society whose activity is relevant to the matter of Responsible Business Conduct.

In the scenario of the creation of such an Advisory Council, whenever a Specific Instance is submitted whose focus intersects with the activity of one or more entities represented on the Advisory Council, these will be consulted. Although it is not foreseen that this Council will have decision-making power, its opinion will be considered during the treatment of the Specific Instance.

The phases for the treatment of Specific Instances, according to the current Procedural Guidance of the NCP PT, are schematized in the diagram available at https://www.dgae.gov.pt/gestao-de-ficheiros-externos-dgae-ano-2023/diagram-pcn-pdf.aspx

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises were created with the purpose of regulating the activity of multinational enterprises subjected to legal regimes, whose robustness depends on the length of their operations.

The most commonly used concept of multinational enterprise is that of a company that operates in more than one region, commonly known as in different jurisdictions, and must establish business relationships with other companies operating in these regions, which may be SMEs.    

In the scope of this response, we highlight the following paragraphs of the Guidelines:

- Paragraph 4 of Chapter I of the Guidelines "Concepts and Principles" states that "The Guidelines are addressed to all the entities within the multinational enterprise (parent companies and/or local entities). ";

- Paragraph 5 of Chapter I of the Guidelines "Concepts and Principles" states that "The Guidelines are not aimed at introducing differences of treatment between multinational and domestic enterprises; they reflect good practice for all. Accordingly, multinational and domestic enterprises are subject to the same expectations in respect of their conduct wherever the Guidelines are relevant to both”;

- Paragraph 6 of Chapter I of the Guidelines "Concepts and Principles" states that "Governments wish to encourage the widest possible observance of the Guidelines. While it is acknowledged that small- and medium-sized enterprises may not have the same capacities as larger enterprises, governments adhering to the Guidelines nevertheless encourage them to observe the Guidelines’ recommendations to the fullest extent possible.”;

- Paragraph 13 of Chapter II of the Guidelines "General Policies" states that "In addition to addressing adverse impacts in relation to matters covered by the Guidelines, encourage, where practicable, business partners, including suppliers and sub-contractors, to apply principles of responsible business conduct compatible with the Guidelines.”

13/04/2023 - AEP | How can a legal imposition be compatible with a voluntary imposition? Won’t this create more entropy? What are the consequences of specific instances? If there is specific legislation in the fight against corruption, why following the Guidelines?

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines) is a soft-law instrument (in other words it’s voluntary), and does not replace binding national legal frameworks. However, as the Guidelines are a voluntary and pioneering instrument of recognized international value, binding legislation relevant to Responsible Business Conduct tends to be based on and/or aligned with the recommendations set out in the Guidelines. Thus, integrating the Guidelines into corporate policies gives companies a comparative advantage in going beyond legally imposed obligations. Thus, as far as Responsible Business Conduct is concerned, the Guidelines do not create entropy but instead support businesses.

Since the Guidelines are a voluntary instrument, the consequences that may result for a company from an interested party's submission of a specific instance (complaint) must be distinguished from any legal consequences that may result from a litigation. The handling of a Specific Instance is not intended to identify a guilty party, but rather to be a constructive process aimed at bringing the parties in disagreement into dialogue. 

Since the submission and review of a Specific Instance requires the NCP to write and publish specific outputs, the consequences that may result for a company from the fact that an interested party has submitted a Specific Instance are equivalent to the value that society places on the Guidelines and responsible business conduct. If a company refuses to engage in this process this could negatively impact its reputation.

In addition, filing a Specific Instance has no costs and holds the potential to be faster than legal procedures, considering that the parties are not required to be represented by lawyers and there are no court fees to be paid.

The Guidelines support enterprises in behaving more responsibly, which will contribute to compliance with applicable laws, including those regarding corruption (see Chapter VII of the Guidelines "Combating Bribery, Bribe Solicitation and Extortion").

13/04/2023 - AICEP | How can companies' compliance with the guidelines can positively influence its business?

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines) are an internationally recognized instrument on Responsible Business Conduct. It is aligned with other international instruments relevant to the same subject, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs) and the International Labour Organisation's Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.

In this way the Guidelines help companies to integrate guidelines into their policies which, on the one hand, promote improvement in their conduct and, on the other hand, ensure greater visibility and recognition of companies in this field.

The integration of the Guidelines into company policy promotes a more responsible conduct, giving rise in the long term to the following competitive advantages:

- Efficient risk and reputation management;

- Identifying new markets and business opportunities that comply with sustainability precepts;

- Gains in efficiency and resilience at the operational level; 

- Recognition by society, including consumers; 

- Compliance with internationally recognized norms, principles and standards;

- Greater ability to attract and retain talent.

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