The legal status of due diligence regulations in supply chains in Poland

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published on 15 September 2022 | reading time approx. 2 minutes


As opposed to Germany, Poland has not taken any measures aimed at introducing an obligation for enterprises to exercise due diligence into the system to safeguard human rights and environmental standards in supply chains.



According to press releases, the Polish government will not introduce any regulations until the first conclusions and evaluations regarding Germany's Gesetz über die unternehmerischen Sorgfaltspflichten in Lieferketten vom 16.7.2021 (Supply Chain Act) are made and the EU regulations are developed. Poland has announced that it will actively participate in the preparation of similar solutions at EU level. It is therefore most likely that Poland will wait for an EU directive on this matter, which it will then transpose into national legislation.


Impact of the German regulations on Polish companies

Polish companies and their managers must be aware that the German Supply Chain Act does not apply exclu­sively to German companies. The German regulations also apply to foreign companies that operate in Germany, i.e. have branches, subsidiaries, offices or joint ventures in Germany. In such cases, foreign enterprises will have to fulfil the requirements set out in the German Supply Chain Act as long as they reach the required threshold for the number of employees. In addition, Polish subsidiaries of German companies subject to the Act may expect that supply chain control mechanisms will have to be harmonised on a group-wide basis.


The new German regulations will also affect Polish suppliers and sub-suppliers who are part of supply chains involving goods supplied to Germany, as they require certain obligations to be extended and/or transferred to such (sub)suppliers, as well.

In practice, it may turn out that Polish companies will have to adopt appropriate internal policies in order to maintain cooperations with German companies. Polish suppliers are increasingly required to carry out periodic risk analyses for their deliveries and to implement appropriate preventive and remedial measures, which implies the need to introduce a compliance procedure into companies operating in the German market.


Summary

The entry into force of the German Supply Chain Act will undoubtedly change the conditions for cooperation between German companies and their Polish suppliers and will be an additional challenge for Polish companies. The German law touches upon issues such as:

  • compliance with certain international conventions;
  • limiting child labour;
  • mistreatment of workers (including forced labour);
  • prohibition of association;
  • unfair wages;
  • safety in the workplace;
  • negative impact on the environment.


Poland is a party to many international conventions and treaties protecting human rights and workers' rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights. Consequently, Polish law fights against forced child labour and the Polish Labour Code addresses, among other things, occupational health and safety issues and irregularities in the payment of wages, the correctness of which is controlled by state authorities (National Labour Inspectorate).

For these reasons, it may be assumed that the adaptation of Polish companies to the new conditions of cooperation in relation to the German Supply Chain Act should not pose many difficulties for Polish companies.

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