Germany Expands Human Rights Due Diligence Requirements

The German government has demonstrated its commitment to human rights due diligence with the passage of the National Action Plan (NAP). Under the NAP, German companies are obligated to:

  • Create a publicly available policy statement that identifies human trafficking and slavery risks.
  • Create a human rights impact assessment.
  • Perform remediation as necessary.
  • Communicate with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Develop an effective compliance mechanism.

The German government’s goal is to ensure at least half of the approximately 1,800 German companies with more than 500 employees are verifiably implementing these actions by 2020.

Currently, the German government is executing a monitoring process to evaluate the current due-diligence landscape. German Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass, clearly articulated the German government’s position, stating “Germany and the German economy are reaping the benefits of globalisation. That is why we have a particular responsibility to protect the rights of the people working in our global supply and value chains. Businesses in Germany are now being asked to report how they ensure human rights are respected in their processes — and what challenges they encounter on the way.”

Learn more about human trafficking and slavery legislation in our our eBook, Human Trafficking, Slavery & Your Supply Chain.

The NAP Monitoring Process 

The German government’s aim is to create a transparent monitoring process that uses sound methodology to meet high academic standards. They have designed a nuanced evaluation system to ensure reasonable reviews of due diligence implementations, including anonymous evaluations and compliance with existing supply chain data management legislation.

In the fall of 2018, the German government conducted exploratory interviews of 30 businesses. The result was the Inception Report, which has become the basis for the following actions taken to ensure the successful implementation of the NAP. On July 10, 2019, the German Federal Foreign Office published their first interim report on the process, and are currently reviewing the extent to which companies are meeting their due-diligence obligations.

In early August 2019, as part of the monitoring process, approximately 1,800 German companies will be emailed a letter by the audit firm Ernst & Young, asking for their participation in a survey. Companies will be asked to volunteer information about their plan to meet NAP requirements.

If companies cooperate by providing adequate information, the German government will gain insight into the success of the NAP. However, should companies volunteer insufficient data, the German government will introduce additional national legislation and advocate for the European Union to implement its own regulation, following an effective and comprehensive review of the NAP in 2020.

In the beginning of 2021, the German government will determine whether companies have fully integrated plans for human rights due diligence. Until then, the government will not classify businesses as compliant or non-compliant.

Other Countries Taking Action

Germany is not the only country taking action against human rights violations in their global supply chains. Following an independent review of the United Kingdom (UK) Modern Slavery Act, commissioned by the UK Home Secretary in July 2018, the UK government decided to strengthen its modern slavery legislation based on provided recommendations.

To improve transparency in the supply chain provision of the act, the UK government will launch a public consultation in 2019. Following the consultation, the UK’s statutory guidance on transparency in supply chains will be revised in 2020 to stress the importance of organizations strengthening their human rights due diligence efforts by looking beyond tier 1 companies. The guidance will also provide a template for action. The UK’s public sector, including departments within the national government, local governments, agencies and public authorities, will also be subject to these transparency requirements if their annual budget exceeds £36 million.

In Australia, the New South Wales (NSW) government delayed the implementation of the state-level Modern Slavery Act to make way for the full implementation of the federal government’s Australia Modern Slavery Act, passed in November 2018. While the federal and state regulations have similar requirements for identifying and reporting on risks of modern slavery in supply chains, the NSW Modern Slavery Act is more stringent, requiring businesses with employees located in the region and $50 million AUD in net sales to establish an anti-slavery commissioner and face penalties for non-compliance.

How Assent Can Help

As governments continue to strengthen human trafficking and slavery legislation, companies must meet growing expectations by strengthening their due-diligence programs. Assent’s Corporate Social Responsibility Suite helps companies efficiently manage every aspect of their responsible sourcing programs, automating the collection and validation of data and helping to identify and assess modern slavery risks in supply chains.

To learn more about how the Corporate Social Responsibility Suite can help your company meet your corporate social responsibility requirements, reduce reputational risk and more, contact us at