Women weaving in factory

The California Attorney General’s office recently released a Resource Guide to assist the retailers and manufacturers who are required—by the 2010 California Transparency in Supply Chains Act—to make certain public disclosures about their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. You can access a copy of the Resource Guide here.

The objective of the Act is to enable California consumers to make informed purchasing decisions on the basis of what companies are doing with respect to the detection and prevention of forced labor and human trafficking in their direct product supply chains.

The Act requires retailers and manufacturers doing business in California (that have over $100 million in global revenue) to prominently disclose, on company websites, the extent to which, if any, the company engages in specific activities to detect and prevent forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains—verification, auditing, certification, internal accountability, and training. The Act does not impose any obligation on businesses subject to its jurisdiction to implement specific measures to address the insidious abuses. Provided companies make the required disclosures, they will comply with the law even if they turn a blind eye to the exploitation of vulnerable workers in their supply chain.

The Resource Guide provides recommendations and examples related to the format and content of the required disclosures. It also highlights examples of inadequate disclosures that will not comply with the law.

Verité’s counsel to companies is that compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act is not enough to adequately address the widespread presence of forced labor and human trafficking in global supply chains. You can read our August 2013 White Paper on best practices in responding to the Act here.

There are a series of clear, proven steps that leading companies and industries are taking to effectively counteract the scourge of forced labor and trafficking in their supply chains:

  • Prohibit charging fees to workers to get jobs, and ensure those who do pay are reimbursed;
  • Ensure there is only one employment contract between the employer and workers, also making sure it contains all the terms and conditions of employment and is explained to and signed by foreign workers in a language they understand before deployment from their home country;
  • Prohibit retention of passports and identity documents. Provide workers with secure storage for their belongings and personal documents;
  • Third-party recruitment agents in sending and receiving countries involved in the recruitment, placement, or management of foreign workers should be subject to rigorous due diligence and held accountable for their practices by their clients;
  • Train suppliers on how to screen for forced labor risks, and implement operational controls that ensure sustainable compliance with international standards and best practices; and
  • Implement a credible, independent grievance mechanism that empowers vulnerable migrant workers to highlight abuses.

 

For more information, please contact Declan Croucher.