Slavery guidance issued ahead of new law

14 July 2021

Guidance on tackling the risk of forced labour in supply chains has been issued by the European Commission (EC) ahead of legislation.

The EC said the guidance was “bridging the gap until legislation on Sustainable Corporate Governance is in place”.

“The upcoming legislation should introduce a mandatory due diligence duty requiring EU companies to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for sustainability impacts in their operations and supply chains,” it said.

The legislation will include action and enforcement mechanisms to ensure forced labour does not find a place in the value chains of EU companies. The proposals are currently subject to an upcoming impact assessment.

The EC said it had already put in place mandatory standards in some sectors and actively promotes the effective implementation of international standards on responsible business conduct.

The guidance a six-step framework to follow due diligence, including creating “zero tolerance” policies on forced labour, how to identify risk factors, and what to consider when talking action, including “responsible disengagement” from supplier partnerships.

Valdis Dombrovsk, executive vice-president and commissioner for trade, said the EC was committed to wiping out forced labour as part of broader work to defend human rights.

“This is why we put strengthening the resilience and sustainability of EU supply chains at the core of our recent trade strategy,” he said.

“Businesses are key to making this happen, because they can make all the difference by acting responsibly. With today’s guidance, we are supporting EU companies in these efforts. We will ramp up our due diligence work with our upcoming legislation on Sustainable Corporate Governance.”

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