5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
5.7 Pillar 1: state duty to protect
5.7.2 Operational principles: legislative and information policy measures
Guiding Principle 3 [page 20]
PI12 Sustainability reporting standards
Reporting on the action taken by a business enterprise to respect human rights is an important element of due diligence under Pillar 2 of the UNGP.
In line with the Grüne Wirtschaft [‘Green Economy’] report (2016) and the Federal Council’s national action plan on corporate social responsibility, the federal government campaigns at both national and international levels for the promotion and harmonisation of corporate sustainability reporting. This also covers human rights. Switzerland is a member, among others, of the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 (GoF47), which promotes sustainability reporting internationally. Within the GoF47, Switzerland works in particular with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Federal Council will continue its work within the GoF47. It also supports the drafting of sectorspecific guidance and practical examples.
PI13 Corporate Sustainability Reporting
The EU decided at the end of 2014 to introduce mandatory sustainability reporting. Member States have until the end of 2016 to put this obligation into effect. EU Directive 2014/95/EU determines that certain large undertakings and groups must publish non-financial information on respect for human rights, diversity, and combating corruption and bribery in connection with environmental, social and employee matters. According to the comply or explain principle, business enterprises must also disclose why they have not published certain information. The Federal Council is closely monitoring developments with regard to the legally binding reporting of non-financial information in the EU. It is prepared to examine possible action, which would be as congruent as possible with international regulation, and intends to draw up a consultation draft on sustainability reporting that will be based on the EU instrument. Work will begin when more is known about the way in which EU Member States intend to implement the Directive.
Swiss business enterprises are not obliged to report on sustainability issues. However, in line with the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all UN Member States, and in particular to achieve SDG 12.6, companies are encouraged to introduce sustainable practices and to include sustainability information in their reporting.
Accounting legislation requires all companies that are subject to an ordinary audit pursuant to Article 727 of the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) to include a general assessment of risk in their management report. This also includes human rights risks, where these are present. Listed companies are also obliged by Article 53 of the SIX Swiss Exchange Listing Rules to report on human rights matters where these might affect the company’s share price. The Federal Council recommends incorporating the human rights risks which business enterprises identify in their due diligence processes, for example, in their sustainability reports.