(Polling results attached in full below)
• According to a new YouGov poll, 87% of the British public support new laws
to prevent businesses from exploiting people in their supply chains; 83% of
the British public support new laws that would force companies to ensure
their supply chains do no avoidable damage to the environment.
• 39 investors, representing £4.5 trillion in assets under management and
advice write a letter supporting a new UK supply chain law. These investors
join 36 businesses who have already stated support for a new UK law
requiring companies to carry out due diligence to prevent abuses of human
rights and environmental harm.
LONDON | New polling conducted by Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human
rights organisation, and the Corporate Justice Coalition, the UK’s civil society network on
corporate accountability, shows that the majority of the British public support new laws to
make sure businesses stamp out environmental damage and exploitative practices in their
supply chains. This builds on support from 36 businesses – including the British Retail
Consortium, Tesco and the John Lewis Partnership – who last year called on the
Government to introduce a new UK law.
Today, a group of 39 investors, representing £4.5 trillion in assets under management and
advice, also publish a letter in support of a new UK human rights and environmental due
diligence law – inclusive of liability provisions to be enforced through the courts.
The polling, released today, reveals that 87% of the public support new laws to prevent
businesses from exploiting people in their supply chains and 83% support new laws that
would force companies to ensure their supply chains do no avoidable damage to the
Support for new laws is over 75% across all UK age groups, regions of the UK and
supporters of the three main parties – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat – in the 2019 General Election, in addition to both Remain and Leave voters in the 2016 Brexit
These results are unsurprising given that nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) think
that everyday products have likely caused environmental damage, and 64% think that
everyday products commonly have human exploitation in their supply chains. Following
high-profile domestic scandals such as that involving apparel company Boohoo’s Leicester
supply chain, and more recent exposés on the exploitation of migrant workers on British
farms, the British public are aware that many everyday products have a dark history.
The call is clear: businesses, investors, consumers and rights groups are all calling for
stronger laws in the UK that require companies and investors to carry out human rights
and environmental due diligence across their operations and value chains, and to be held
accountable when harm takes place.
Prime Ministerial hopeful Liz Truss has publicly supported the Modern Slavery Act, and
championed the need to go further to make sure businesses do not have forced labour in
their supply chains. As research from the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre
shows, businesses and other stakeholders prefer regulation that applies to all human
rights in order to allow them to better prioritise and respond to the most severe risks.
The UK Government must now urgently introduce new, primary legislation to protect
people around the world, and the environment, from harms in the supply chains of UK
businesses. Such action would also create a ‘level playing field’ for UK businesses set to
fall under the scope of new laws being tabled in other countries. It would also meet the G7
Leaders’ commitment to include “mandatory measures that protect rights holders” in order
to uphold international standards in global supply chains.
More than 35 civil society groups – including Anti-Slavery International, the Trades Union
Congress (TUC), Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth – are united in calling for
a new UK law modelled on the Bribery Act that would hold businesses to account when
they fail to prevent harms in their value chains. The British Institute of International and
Comparative Law (BIICL) concludes that such a law would be feasible in the UK, and the
call is in line with recommendations from a 2017 report from the UK Parliament’s Joint
Committee on Human Rights.
Investors outline that:
“Businesses should be held legally liable for harm, loss and damage arising from their
failure to prevent adverse human rights and environmental impacts within their operations
and throughout their global value chains and be required to adequately compensate
victims of abuse. This should include appropriate administrative and civil liability legislative
provisions for human rights and environmental adverse impacts within their operations and
throughout their global value chains, while also exploring the potential for other types of
Businesses called on the Government to:
“…urgently bring forward ambitious primary legislation to mandate companies to carry out
human rights and environmental due diligence. To level the playing field in practice, the
requirement needs to be accompanied by consequences that will be strong enough to
ensure that businesses that fall within the scope of the legislation carry out HREDD to a
high standard and that victims have access to justice.”
Chloe Cranston, Business and Human Rights Manager at Anti-Slavery International said:
“This polling results supports what we have long known, the British public do not want
people and the planet to be harmed while making the goods and providing the services
that we purchase and use every day. With crucial support from businesses and investors,
the case for a new UK law which mandates companies to prevent harm is clear. We need
a new law that protects workers, holds businesses accountable, and provides people with
access to justice and remedy in UK courts.”
Mark Dearn, Director of the Corporate Justice Coalition said:
“Failure by the Government to regulate on this vital issue will effectively punish companies
that choose to be responsible as well as those falling under similar new laws in other
countries. Worse still, it will mean the UK is fast becoming a laggard on protecting people
and the planet from abuse and exploitation. With business, investors, consumers and rights
groups united in support for a new law, the time to act is now.”
James Corah, Head of Sustainability at CCLA Investment Management said:
“When introduced in 2015 the UK’s Modern Slavery Act set a new standard for regulation
aimed at business and human rights. However, time has moved on and our legislation must
too. As investors we call upon the Government to once again step up and adopt mandatory
human rights and environmental due diligence into law. If enacted this would provide a
level playing field for companies, certainty for investors and, most importantly, unleash the
power of business to improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Notes to Editors
For more information, contact Georgina Russell, Anti-Slavery International on +44 7789 936 383 or via email@example.com.
• All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,802 adults.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 – 19 August 2022. The survey was carried out online. The
figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
• Letter from 39 investors, representing £4.5 trillion in assets under management and advice, calling
on the Government to introduce a new UK human rights and environmental due diligence law –
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
• October 2021 letter from 36 businesses and investors – including the British Retail Consortium,
Tesco and the John Lewis Partnership – calling on the Government to introduce a new UK human
rights and environmental due diligence law.
• October 2021 legal opinion on whether Boohoo could be liable for alleged supply chain abuses under
a new UK law.
• 37 UK civil society groups endorse key elements of a new UK ‘Business, Human Rights and
• The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre monitors the progress of such laws around the world.
Legislation is already in place in France, Germany and Norway. In February 2022, the European
Commission tabled a proposal for an EU-wide Directive on ‘Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence’
including civil liability and a duty to undertake due diligence. This is set to apply to UK companies
operating in the Single Market with turnover above a specific threshold.
• The 2022 G7 Leaders’ Communiqué stated commitment to, “… coherent implementation of and
compliance with international standards relating to human rights, environment, and labour across
global supply chains”, including via, “mandatory measures that protect rights-holders, provide for
greater multilateral cooperation to address abuses, and support remedy, thus enhancing
predictability and certainty for business.”
• UK companies have been linked to human rights and environmental abuses worldwide, in sectors
including PPE, tea and garments.
• In 2017, the Joint Committee on Human Rights called for the introduction of a new UK human rights
due diligence law modelled on the UK Bribery Act; in 2021, the British Institute of International and
Comparative Law analysed the feasibility of such a new UK law – a ‘UK Failure to Prevent Mechanism
for Corporate Human Rights Harms’; in its 2021 “Xinjiang Detention Camps” inquiry, the Foreign
Affairs Committee noted the deficiencies of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and recommended the
Government “introduce new legislation that will create a legal requirement for businesses and public
sector bodies to take concrete measures to prevent and remove the use of forced labour in their value
• Op-ed in the Times (April 2021) by ASOS, the global fashion destination, calling for mandatory
human rights due diligence modelled on the 2010 UK Bribery Act
• Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre policy brief on the effectiveness of mandatory human
rights and environmental due diligence, published May 2022