DUTCH CHILD LABOUR ACT: HAVE YOU CHECKED YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN?
On 14 May 2019, the Dutch Senate adopted a bill to combat child labour (hereafter: the Child Labour Act (Wet Zorgplicht Kinderarbeid)). On the basis of this Act, any company that sells goods to Dutch end-users must exercise due care in order to prevent those goods from being composed using child labour. Under the Child Labour Act company directors can even be prosecuted under criminal law.
The Child Labour Act applies to all companies that physically sell goods to Dutch end-users. Moreover, the Act applies to companies that are established in the Netherlands and sell their goods or services online, focusing (in part) on the Dutch market. The Child Labour Act does not apply to companies that only transport or store goods in the Netherlands.
The Child Labour Act obliges companies to take due care to ensure that there is no child labour in their supply chain. Moreover, companies have to correctly address reports of child labour in their supply chain. In addition, companies shall declare that they are taking due care to prevent child labour.
The date the Child Labour Act will go into force still has to be determined. However, this date will be no earlier than 1 January 2020.
The purpose of the Child Labour Act is to offer consumers more certainty that they will not buy products made by child labour.
Any natural or legal person whose interests are affected by the actions or omissions of a company in complying with the law can submit a complaint. The company has six months to deal with the complaint in an adequate manner. If the company does not deal with the complaint in an adequate manner, a regulator will investigate the complaint. It is not yet established which regulator will be responsible for this task. This will be regulated by further regulation. The regulator can impose the company with an administrative fine, when it appears that the company has failed to comply with its obligations under the Child Labour Act. Directors of companies who have been fined more than once can even be prosecuted under criminal law.