It is every company’s responsibility to respect the human rights of its workers and those involved in its supply chain. Asides from the obvious human consequences, failure to do this can lead to significant reputational damage and loss of trust from business partners. It can also have a detrimental effect on the productivity of staff.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) are the authoritative global standard on business and human rights. The UK government expects all businesses to implement the UNGPs.
The principles state that businesses should:
- develop a public commitment to respect human rights and embed this in company culture
- practice due diligence, assessing risks to human rights and taking action to decrease these
- track the effectiveness of any measures
- communicate what they’re doing to tackle human rights risks, internally and to the public
- establish a process for providing remedy to anyone who is harmed, where the business caused or contributed to that harm
Modern slavery is a type of human rights abuse and includes human trafficking, slavery, servitude, forced or bonded labour and child labour. The UK’s Modern Slavery Act sets out additional rules for businesses operating in the UK with a turnover of over £36 million, relating specifically to extended supply chains.
Information and guidance
Guidance for UK companies on respecting human rights in international trade:
- UK government guidance for organisations to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in their business or supply chains
- advice and case studies on the business respect human rights website
- resources on human rights in international business from the Shift website
Find more information on great.gov.uk on help government can provide on bribery, corruption and human rights issues.