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22 Okt 2021

Sarah Butler, The Guardian

UK: Retailers press for human rights and environmental checks on supply chains

'Retailers press for human rights and environmental checks on supply chains', 22 October 2021

"Tesco, John Lewis, Primark, Asos and the Co-op are calling on the government to introduce a legal requirement for companies to carry out human rights and environmental checks on their global supply chains.

Such “failure to prevent” legislation could potentially fend off scandals such as the poor treatment of workers in Leicester factories supplying the fast fashion group Boohoo uncovered last year.

A review commissioned for the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) suggests that if such legislation was in place, Boohoo could have been found liable...

...Timothy Otty QC, who was commissioned by the BHRRC, said Levitt’s findings indicated that historically Boohoo did not have in place reasonable procedures to prevent poor working conditions and low pay in its suppliers’ factories and so potentially would have been liable under the proposed “failure to prevent” law.

He said the company was “a compelling example of a situation in which such legislation might have made a difference, either by encouraging appropriate action to be taken earlier or by providing a means of redress for those affected by the allegations found to be substantially true”.

Thulsi Narayanasamy, the head of labour rights at the BHRRC, said: “Voluntary commitments to ensure human rights are respected by businesses have failed. It speaks volumes that leading businesses and investors themselves are uniting to call for a level playing field and a clear regulatory environment to ensure that the rights of the most vulnerable are respected.

“We want to see this requirement backed up by strong liability provisions that will hold companies legally accountable if they fail to prevent abuses. As workers face unprecedented rights abuses with no recourse, the UK simply can’t afford to waste more time, it’s time to bridge the regulatory gap.”..."

Part of the following timelines

UK: Businesses and investors call for new human rights due diligence law

QC says Boohoo could have been liable for human rights breaches under a new UK law