January 2020, the Federal Council approved the revised Action Plans 2020-2023
on corporate social responsibility, and on Business and Human Rights. The
federal government promotes the implementation of a responsible business
conduct. It is an important contribution to sustainable development and to
solving societal challenges.
The National Action Plan for Business and Human
Rights was revised by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and
Research (EAER) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) with the
involvement of external stakeholders (business associations, civil society,
academia) for the period 2020-2023. It builds on the results achieved so far
and will continue to support companies with effective measures. This includes
in particular the creation of support measures for the implementation of human
rights due diligence (tools, guidelines, etc.) and cooperation with
multi-stakeholder initiatives that can support SMEs in particular.
The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact not only in health terms but also in economic terms, threatening to put many people out of work, both in Switzerland and worldwide. Businesses have an important role to play in the fight against COVID-19. They can support efforts to stop the spread of the virus by adhering to health and safety plans and by ensuring compliance with social distancing.
The federal government put together a preparedness handbook to help businesses develop measures to protect employees from infection and keep a business running in the event of a pandemic. The handbook is aimed at sector associations and businesses and sets out the various (standard and specific) protection plans.
Brochure “Human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation”
Switzerland is active in combating human trafficking for labour exploitation, which is defined as the recruiting or trading of people who are forced to work against their will. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO is committed to making labour inspectors aware of this issue through an information campaign and a brochure providing practical tools, such as indicators for identifying potential victims.
Due diligence procedures for Swiss SMEs in the field of human rights: new brochure
What benefits can a company derive if it respects human rights? How can it ensure that it conducts business responsibly? SECO and the FDFA are publishing a brochure for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on their human rights responsibilities.
This brochure gives Swiss SMEs a practical overview of the opportunities and challenges of responsible business conduct. It provides international and national guidelines on this subject. It also provides tips for integrating human rights into corporate governance. The brochure provides an overview of the steps required to implement human rights due diligence. It is specifically aimed at SMEs and provides useful and specific information for human rights risk assessment.
UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
The UN Human Rights Council endorsed the UNGP in June 2011. The UN Guiding Principles (UNGP) are rooted in an awareness that corporate activities can also have adverse human rights impacts.
The UNGP represent an important step towards closing the governance gaps. They define the international policy framework for the State duty to protect, and corporate responsibility with regard to human rights. The UN Guiding Principles rest on three pillars: