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Stronger legislation and enforcement needed to protect workers’ human rights, recommends Joint Committee on Human Rights

Author: Joint Committee on Human Rights, Published on: 5 April 2017

Over the course of this inquiry we were pleased to hear of the growing importance of human rights issues to businesses, consumers and government. Indeed, developments such as the Gangmasters Licencing Authority and Modern Slavery Act have caused real improvements...

The UK must build on work already done and create human rights protections that demand high standards of businesses. Businesses must be required by law to demonstrate how they are ensuring human rights are respected in their operations - if they do not then public bodies must exclude them from procurement opportunities...

Access to justice must be improved and companies must feel the effects of their actions. We would like to see laws enacted to allow victims to bring claims against companies where they have failed to prevent human rights harms from occurring...

A key finding in the report is the importance and difficulty in enforcing best practice throughout supply chains. Major high street retailers will regularly outsource the production of their fashion lines to factories, who may then further subcontract production elsewhere...However, supply chain dynamics, and the uneven distribution of costs and benefits between retailers and manufacturers cannot be discounted as a major factor... A skewed playing field had been created whereby profit margins for suppliers were so small they left no room for improved wages or working conditions...

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