Human Rights & Ethical Trade

Human Rights & Ethical Trade



From growers and farm workers, to packers and truckers, we enforce consistent, rigorous standards to protect workers.

To ensure we are upholding the rights of people impacted by our business and continually driving improvements, we have adopted a range of approaches and have integrated our targets across the business. 

We underpin our business operations with strong, long term relationships, making sure that we work with our suppliers to address any challenges they may face. Our core standards are outlined in our Supplier Code of Conduct, which is fundamental to the relationship between Lidl and its contracted Business Partners. It defines the social expectations of all global direct and indirect suppliers and forms an integral part of our commercial contracts.

Human rights due diligence

As outlined in our Human Rights & Environmental Due Diligence policy, published in 2019, we systematically monitor and assess human rights risks in our supply chains. Our risk assessment process is informed by greater transparency, our social compliance programme, internationally recognised assessment tools, as well as knowledge gathered through our supplier relationships and expert NGO partners.

Over the next year we will conduct a human rights review of our supply chains and are committed to following and reporting against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As part of this review, we have commited to conducting three human rights impact assessments. We will also implement programmes to directly support smallholder farmers, including developing a living income benchmark, within prioritised supply chains to improve their chances of earning a living wage / living income. Through this approach we will focus our efforts on where we can have the most impact.


Modern Day Slavery

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that at least 21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour. It is regarded as the fastest growing criminal industry and has been identified across multiple private sector economies, from construction and manufacturing to agriculture and fishing. Victims of slavery are often hidden within complex supply chains, controlled and threatened by criminal perpetrators, making their plight challenging to both identify and effectively remediate. Therefore we believe the only way to approach this topic is to ensure collaborative actions with other retailers and industry groups. More information can be reviewed on Our Partners page.

We welcome the Modern Slavery Act which the UK government introduced in 2015, enforcing businesses with a turnover of 36 million or more, to publicly disclose their approach and actions to tackle forced labour and human trafficking. Please review our Modern Slavery Statement Archive.


Responsible Recruitment 

In 2018 we published our Responsible Recruitment in Supply Chains policy. This policy outlines the expectations of all suppliers that use labour providers as part of their business operations and outlines our approach to ensuring that workers recruited through these mechanisms have their rights protected. We continue to engage with partners on this topic and will evolve our policies as understanding increases. We implement a range of policies to guide the recruitment and behaviour of the colleagues we employ, both directly and indirectly through recruitment agencies, to protect them from the risk of modern-day slavery. These policies include our Anti-Harassment Policy, Grievance Procedure and Eligibility to Work procedure.


We are continually developing our approach to transparency in our supply chains and are committed to going beyond tier one. As a step towards this we have disclosed sourcing locations of some of our key commodities and products listed below:

We are involved in specific initiatives to drive improvements at grower and producer level including the ‘Spanish Ethical Trade Forum’ in the fresh produce supply chain and a multi-stakeholder group Food Network for Ethical Trade.


Supporting Women in our Supply Chains

We know that women play a crucial role within our food supply chains and understand that women can be more vulnerable to human rights violations, violence and abuse. Through our supply chain risk assessment, we understand that gender discrimination is prevalent within our sourcing locations.

We are signatories to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles which further demonstrates our commitment to promoting gender equality and further supporting women in our business and supply chains. More information on the steps we are taking as a business can be found as part of our Gender Pay Report published on our website. 

We have also implemented several projects and programmes in key priority supply chains to specifically support the livelihoods of women workers and farmers in coffee; cocoa and soy supply chains. We continue to work closely with partners to promote and support resilience amongst farmers and their communities, as well as providing an update on the impact of our programmes through our CSR reporting.

Cote d’Ivoire, Cocoa - Since May 2012 direct support is provided to 45 co-operatives reaching 18,000 smallholder cocoa farmers so far. Support provided includes developing marketing strategies; technical support, promoting diversification and female farmers on crop diversity.

Guatemala, Coffee – Since Oct 2018 there have been improvements in productivity with a focus on climate change resilience for 90 female farmers as part of a co-operative.

Bolivia, Coffee - Since July 2016 we are supporting resilience of 8 smallholder coffee cooperatives in Bolivia by providing direct training of over 264 smallholder farmers.

Brazil, Soy – Since Oct 2018 a direct trade sourcing model has been implemented to support smallholder soy farmers.

Working with our non-food suppliers

We have been a member of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) since 2007, committing us to improving working conditions for people employed in our non-food supply chains. As part of the membership, Lidl’s non-food suppliers are required to regularly carry out independent social audits by qualified local personnel for all non-food producers and to comply with recognised international labour standards.

Recognising that audits only present us with a snapshot in time and do not necessarily drive improvements in themselves, we work to understand the root cause of the issues and take appropriate remediating steps. Expert partners work closely with our factories to develop and implement corrective actions following an audit.

Since 2008, we have also focused on going ‘beyond compliance’ in Bangladesh, working in partnership with the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) to provide dedicated training programmes for production facilities to support compliance with international labour standards. Our current joint programme focuses on Bangladesh, where GIZ currently employs more than 20 people who work exclusively for Lidl and to date have delivered on-the-ground training to 80 textile manufacturers across the country.

We are a member of the Bangladesh Accord, which is an independent, legally-binding agreement between brands and trade unions designed to work towards a safe and healthy Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry.

Social auditing

As part of our due diligence approach, we have established a risk-based social auditing programme, conducting third-party independent audits to measure performance against our Code of Conduct. These provide us with an important snapshot of our supply chain performance on human rights and working conditions. Following audits commissioned at our sites, suppliers develop corrective actions to address any issues raised, which we monitor on an ongoing basis. Our approach is to work collaboratively with suppliers to address areas of non-compliance, ensuring we tackle any challenging issues head-on. 

Product Certifications

We understand the potential barriers facing our supply chain with workers access to grievance mechanisms and remedy. Lidl’s collaborations with the Fairtrade Foundation, UTZ, and the Rainforest Alliance is aimed at helping enhance the lives of farming communities around the world by improving farming methods, protecting the environment, and increasing income through fair prices. Each of these standards have specific requirements to enable grievance mechanisms and remedy. Please see Our Partners page for further details on these certifications.

Supporting Documents 

Our Ethical Trade Training Resources for Suppliers document is a freely available document that signposts Lidl suppliers to training resources. A full document is available on request from

Our Lidl GB Supplier Social Compliance Guidance outlines the expectations of all our direct suppliers and provides greater transparency on our ethical trade monitoring programme.