New non-financial reporting guidelines for large companies

EU member states are required to integrate a new directive for disclosing non-financial information into national legislation. The Directive 2014/95/EU needs to be enshrined in member state law by 6 December 2016.

The Directive 2014/95/EU specifies how large public-interest entities (listed companies, banks, insurance etc.) should disclose social and environmental information in their annual reports. It applies to companies with more than 500 employees and that have a balance sheet of at least €20m or a net turnover of at least €40m. About 6,000 companies and groups across the EU are therefore affected.The required information includes the policies, main risks and outcomes that relate to environmental matters, social and employee activities, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity among board directors. These reports show shareholders and other stakeholders how the company is performing.Companies can choose how they disclose non-financial information. If they already report on CSR matters, for example, they can use the existing report structure. However, it is important that the CSR report contains at least the same content required by the Directive.

The Directive suggests using national and international guidelines such as the UN Global Compact, ISO 26000, or the German Sustainability Code.

Non-European companies may need to report non-financial information if they are a part of an EU supply chain or selling services or products in EU member states.

The European Commission is preparing a non-binding methodology to help guide companies report on non-financial information. It will help companies provide relevant, useful, and comparable non-financial information.

To that end, the Commission has launched a public consultation to gather views and opinions about what the methodology should include. Anyone can contribute to the consultation, which ends on 15 April 2016; information is available here.