4. Position of the Federal Council on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

4.2 The Swiss context [page 6-7]

Many Swiss companies are currently having to tackle a large number of challenges simultaneously: securing their competitiveness on the international markets, against the backdrop of the strong franc and the implementation of Corporate Tax Reform III and the Mass Immigration Initiative, investing in new technologies and human resources, and creating decent, well-qualified jobs in Switzerland and the wider world. With this in mind, the Federal Council can support SMEs in fulfilling their corporate human rights responsibility (cf. PI6 in Section 5.7.2), and ensure that the administrative and financial burdens are not excessive.

4.3 The position and expectations of the Federal Council [page 7]:

Attention should be paid to the specific circumstances of and options open to SMEs. The Federal Council will endeavour to support business enterprises and SMEs in particular, as they proceed with implementation, in order to keep the costs and administrative burden at a reasonable level.

5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

5.5 Corporate responsibility [page 12]:

In view of their limited human and specialist resources, SMEs often face particular challenges in assessing and dealing with possible human rights risks. To ensure that measures are implementable, the NAP therefore pays particular attention to the needs of SMEs, with the aim of maintaining their scope for action. Unnecessary administrative burdens and costs, in particular, should be avoided.

5.7.2 Operational principles: legislative and information policy measures

Guiding Principle 3 [page 16-18]

PI6 Clarify and communicate what the Federal Council expects of business enterprises

The federal government will carry out awareness raising programmes (e.g. website, workshops, publications) geared specifically to the needs of SMEs, and will help to raise consciousness about the issue of business and human rights with information events and materials. Part of the aim of these programmes is to step up federal government efforts to communicate its expectations to business enterprises.

PI10 Initiative on respect for labour and human rights in value chains

The federal government promotes the implementation of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as part of economic development cooperation, and in cooperation with the ILO itself. In this context, it designed a project with the ILO to ensure that labour rights are implemented by business enterprises in developing countries. It supports the ILO and International Finance Corporation (IFC) Better Work programme for the clothing industry as well as the ILO’s SCORE (Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises) programme, which focuses on working conditions at SMEs.