Monitoring the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP)

13.10.2020 - Article

Within the scope of a monitoring process carried out between 2018 and 2020, the Federal Government reviewed the extent to which companies based in Germany with more than 500 employees are meeting their due diligence obligations enshrined in the NAP.

Apprentice using a metal-boring tool
Taking a closer look at business processes© Liesa Johannssen/photothek.net

The final report from the NAP monitoring process was adopted on 8 October 2020. It contains the analysis and evaluation of the overall results of the three surveys conducted between 2018 and 2020. It also describes the methodology.

This process is based on an arrangement in the coalition agreement: “If an effective and comprehensive review of the NAP in 2020 finds that companies’ voluntary commitment is insufficient, we will introduce appropriate legislation at the national level and advocate an EU‑wide regulation.”

In 2020, the most significant year of the survey, 13 to 17 percent of the enterprises observed complied with the NAP requirements (“NAP compliers”). A further 10 to 12 percent of enterprises are “on the right track” towards fulfilling the NAP requirements. They still have deficits but also some good practices. The target of at least 50 percent “NAP compliers” set by the Federal Government has therefore not been achieved.

The requirements with regard to human rights due diligence enshrined in the NAP are considered to be implemented if a company has introduced all five core elements of human rights due diligence to an adequate extent. The monitoring also takes into account the possibility that a company may be able to provide reasonable grounds for not being affected by individual risks or for not (yet) being able to implement certain procedures or measures. The questionnaire provides for a comply‑or‑explain mechanism in all questions. In the questionnaire, companies could submit their implementation planning for individual NAP requirements by the end of 2020.

The first qualitative interviews with 30 businesses were held in autumn 2018 (exploratory phase). In addition, talks were held with nine representatives of stakeholder groups, that is social partners, business associations and NGOs. The interviews provided valuable findings that fed into the comprehensive surveys subsequently carried out in 2019 and 2020. The first quantitative survey was carried out between August and October 2019. The final quantitative monitoring survey was conducted from March to May 2020.

The Federal Government has made the monitoring process transparent and based it on methodologically sound scientific standards. A nuanced evaluation system allowed the very different company situations and the varied challenges they face to be taken into account in implementing the key elements. The assessments were anonymised and complied with applicable data-processing legislation.

The information provided by the companies in the questionnaire underwent a multi-stage plausibility review. Their answers were compared with media reports, and follow-up questions were asked in some cases. The question-and-answer options were based on Chapter III of the NAP.

The information was scrutinised to see whether there was any problematic bias in the results due to the participation in the monitoring process being voluntary. As far as possible, statistical methods were used to eliminate bias.

If businesses have any questions regarding the implementation of the NAP requirements, they can contact the Federal Government’s NAP Help Desk free of charge. Furthermore, the Global Compact Network Germany offers regular training sessions and webinars on implementing human rights due diligence.

All ten ministries of the Interministerial Committee on Business and Human Rights, the relevant government body, lent their close and ongoing support to the monitoring process. All decisions by the Interministerial Committee were taken by consensus. The Business and Human Rights Working Group of the National CSR Forum was involved in the work. The Federal Foreign Office commissioned a consortium headed by the auditing firm Ernst & Young (EY) to perform the survey. It also comprised Systain Consulting, adelphi consult and focusright.


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