The Modern Slavery Act
The modern slavery regulations came into force on 29 October 2015. The Modern Slavery Act requires businesses in the UK to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. The requirement to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement applies to commercial organisations with an annual turnover – or group turnover - of at least £36 million. Organisations have to be transparent about what they are doing to tackle modern slavery, not just within their own operations, but in their supply chains as well.
Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement
The slavery and human trafficking statement is a statement that either:
- sets out the steps that the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains, and in any part of its own business; or
- states that the organisation has taken no such steps (a “No Steps Statement”).
The Government has published “Transparency in supply chains etc: A practical guide”, which gives advice on what employers can include in a statement. This states that the Government "expects organisations to publish their statements as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of each financial year". It goes on to "encourage" publication within six months of the end of the financial year.
The Content Of The Human Trafficking Statement
The organisation’s statement may include information on:
- its structure, business and supply chains;
- its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
- its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
- the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps that it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
- its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate; and
- the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.
The statement must be approved at the highest level of an organisation.
Publication of the Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement
The slavery and human trafficking statement must be published on the organisation’s website and include a link to the statement in a prominent place on the homepage. In the absence of a website, the organisation must provide a copy of the slavery and human trafficking statement within 30 days of any written request for one.
It could be argued that the obligation to publish a statement has no ‘bite’ because there is no penalty for businesses that fail to publish a statement. However, businesses will want to avoid the potential damage to business reputation that may follow from a failure to publish and so it is anticipated that these statements will play a significant role in developing ethical standards across industries.
Simply-Docs has developed an example of a Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement, which should be adapted to the needs of the individual organisation.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute
legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific