Human Rights Due Diligence Law in Germany Takes Shape

02-10-2020

 

The debate about mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence is gaining momentum in Germany. A second monitoring conducted by the German government with regards to how companies with more than 500 employees manage their human rights due diligence concluded with results that were, in the government’s opinion, unsatisfactory.

In mid-July, German ministers for Development as well as Labour and Social Affairs re-launched their efforts towards a German Due Diligence law. The elements of the planned law, focusing on companies with more than 500 employees and headquartered in Germany, foresee duties related to:

  • A human rights policy statement
  • Risk analysis
  • Measures to prevent and mitigate risks
  • Reporting
  • Review of the effectiveness of these measures

These are all elements that stem from the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. Companies will be held liable for observing the planned law’s criteria. A limitation of liability is foreseen if the company engages, for instance, in a multi-stakeholder initiative.

amfori has sent letters to the German ministers who favour pushing this law through parliament by summer 2021. While we welcome the idea to take regulatory steps, we believe that EU-wide regulation would be preferable as it would create a level playing field. In amfori’s view, regulation should:

  • Observe the principle of proportionality
  • Foresee a smart mix of mandatory and voluntary measures
  • Recognise the efforts of amfori members engaging in amfori BSCI and not recognise engagement in multi-stakeholder initiatives only

Additionally, public procurement should better reflect the sustainable engagement of tenderers. We also note that the German government should provide more support to the governments of supplier countries in order to enforce existing laws and protect human rights.

You find a copy of the letter (in German) here.