Risk management is part of due diligence, a duty to prevent or mitigate negative social and environmental effects resulting from business activities, established by the OECD Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
This article gives an overview of current relevant events of European countries regarding human rights due diligence legislation, which include only adopted laws or concrete steps toward a form of legislation. All information comes from the European Coalition for Corporate Justice and their evidence for mandatory human rights due diligence legislation (September 2020).
May 2020 – Introduction to parliament of Social Responsibility Law in the (online) garment sector – due diligence requirements which aim to prevent the sale of clothing and footwear produced with forced and child labour.
January 2019 – Three political parties, together with the support of 100 civil society organisations, trade union confederation, Danish consumer council and some businesses, put forward a parliamentary motion requesting to develop a legislative proposal on mandatory HRDD and corporate liability.
February 2017 – The Duty of Vigilance Law was adopted, which requires due diligence measures from large companies.
November 2018 – The government committed to support a legislative proposal establishing an EU-wide duty of vigilance.
February 2019 – A preliminary draft law on mandatory human rights due diligence by the Ministry of Development and Cooperation was leaked.
June 2020 – Ministries of Labour and Development developed key points for a German Supply Chain Act that were leaked.
2001 – Legislative Decree on Administrative Liability of Legal Entities was introduced, which gives criminal liability for human rights violations. Compliance programs should be in place in Italian companies.
May 2019 – Government adopted Child Labour Due Diligence Law, coming into effect in 2022, in which companies need to submit a statement to regulatory authority declaring they have fulfilled due diligence to identify risks related to child labour throughout their full supply chain.
2018 – Ethics Information Committee started to explore responsible business and supply chain regulation
November 2019 – Ethics Information Committee published draft act to cover transparency, the duty to know and due diligence in supply chains. At the same time the government examines a possible law against modern slavery similar to the UK Modern Slavery Act.
June 2018 – The National Council (lower house) approved a legislative proposal that requires large companies to conduct human rights due diligence. This bill was a counter-proposal to the citizen Responsible Business Initiative which wanted to change the Constitution to introduce duty of care for companies, including human rights diligence and civil liability.
November 2020 – The Responsible Business Initiative was topic of referendum and was not adopted. Therefore the counter-proposal (including non-financial reporting requirements, human rights due diligence rules with respect to child labour and conflict minerals) has entered into force.
2015 – Modern Slavery Act has been adopted, including a transparency in supply chains clause, which requires due diligence measures to ensure slavery or human trafficking is not taking place in their supply chains.
January 2020 – The Environmental Bill has been reintroduced to Parliament.
March 2020 – A member of parliament proposed an amendment to the Environmental Bill that would require the government to publish a separate draft bill on human rights due diligence.
See the picture below for a larger overview on movements around due diligence legislation:
Source: European Coalition of Corporate Justice, December 2020