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23 Mai 2024

UK: Leading supermarkets asked to meet costs of implementing the Employer Pays Principle across supply chains; incl. co. responses

Cherry picking

In May 2024, civil society groups, including Landworkers' Alliance, FairSquare, Unseen, Work Rights Centre and migrant worker specialist Andy Hall, published an open letter calling on supermarkets to implement the Employer Pays Principle (EPP) in the UK Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS), across the tier 2 visa scheme and across global supply chains. The Employer Pays Principle is an internationally recognised best practice standard which states 1. That no worker should pay for a job, and 2. That the costs of recruitment be borne by the employer. The call came in response to recent news of auditor Sedex's adoption of the principle in its updated audit protocol. At the same time, the UK has announced it is extending the SWS and investigating application of the EPP.

Growers, who are required to sign up to Sedex standards, have expressed concern regarding the potential additional financial cost of being compliant with the principal if buyers either put the pressure of bearing the costs onto growers, or delist growers who are unable to be compliant.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited 9 UK supermarkets to respond to thecall for UK supermarkets to meet the costs of implementing the EPP in the UK SWS, across the tier 2 visa scheme and across their global supply chains”, as well as to answer the following questions regarding commitment and implementation of the standard in practice:

  1. Whether the company currently has a policy (public or internal) recognising the risk of worker-paid fees in your supply chains (either region-specific or global) in line with the Employer Pays Principle;
  2. Whether the company has identified recruitment risks or impacts specific to workers employed under the UK’s Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS);
  3. Whether the company commits to supporting growers financially with additional costs arising from implementation of the EPP into Sedex-certified audits;
  4. Disclose how recruitment costs in SWS supply chains are taken into consideration in the adoption of responsible purchasing practices in the first tier of its supply chains in the UK; and,
  5. Whether the company has provided remediation or undertaken investigations, within the last 12 months regarding recruitment fee-charging by migrant workers on the SWS, the number of workers identified as having paid fees and the amounts reimbursed to workers if so.

We received responses from Aldi, Asda, the Co-Op, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose; these can be read in full below. We also received statements from the British Retail Consortium and the Ethical Trading Initiative.


ALDI South Antwort anzeigen
Marks & Spencer Antwort anzeigen
Co-operative Group Antwort anzeigen
Sainsbury's Antwort anzeigen
Waitrose (part of John Lewis Partnership) Antwort anzeigen
Morrisons Antwort anzeigen