The Netherlands has passed legislation requiring companies to ensure that there is no child labour in their supply chains.
In May 2019, the Dutch Senate voted to adopt the Child Labour Due Diligence Bill, under which Dutch companies will have to conduct due diligence to address child labour in their supply chains. The law will enter into force on 1 January 2020.
The legislation is an important step in a growing European movement for regulation requiring companies to conduct due diligence for human rights and environmental risks.
Following the vote in the Dutch Senate, the D66 parliamentary group said, it sees the child labour law “as a step in the right direction.”
Companies have made clear that they would prefer harmonised EU-level regulation rather than national legislation.
The European Commission is expected to publish a study examining the desirability of European human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.
The effect of the law will be to make companies delivering products to the Dutch market report on activity they undertake to address child labour risks in their supply chains.
It will require companies to submit a statement that they have applied due diligence on child labour and have taken steps to prevent, identify, and account for risks and cases of child labour. Companies will not be required to provide a guarantee that there is no child labour in their supply chain, but demonstrate that they have done what can reasonably be expected to prevent it.
According to the ILO, 152 million children are victims of child labour, of which 71 per cent are in agriculture. Cocoa has a notorious reputation for child labour, and numerous countries have been identified as having a child labour risk in the coffee sector.