The "complexity of the facts" and the use of "numerous indefinite legal terms" in the law led to "incalculable litigation risk" for the companies concerned, said ZDH General Secretary Holger Schwannecke of the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung". It is to be feared that, in order to avoid this, many companies will withdraw from risk areas, especially in emerging and developing countries - "with correspondingly negative consequences for the local economy and people".
Schwannecke criticized that the law is not practical and will put a significant burden on internationally operating companies. "Despite the planned threshold of 500 employees, the law threatens to affect craft businesses in Germany," said the ZDH General Secretary. It is to be feared "that the large companies will pass on the comprehensive reporting and control obligations for compliance with human rights standards, which the law provides, to their supply chain and thus also to craft businesses that are part of this supply chain". The question arises as to how craft businesses with an average of five to seven employees should manage this in their day-to-day operations.
The demand for civil liability of companies in the event of a violation of human rights due diligence goes far beyond the requirements of the relevant international human rights standards from the perspective of the Central Craft Association. "We in the skilled trades and the entire economy consider such a law unnecessary, not least because many German companies are already rightly committed to ensuring that global supply chains are designed responsibly and human rights are observed," said Schwannecke. As the NOZ reported, citing government circles, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU), Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Minister of Development Gerd Müller (CSU) want to look for an agreement on Thursday. The bill by Heil and Müller provides for requirements to be introduced for all companies with more than 500 employees.
Companies that do not pay sufficient attention to compliance with the standards with their suppliers should be held liable under civil law. Altmaier is critical of both points.