Modern Slavery Act 2015

CSLz17PUwAAw4f4This may be a strange thing to see on my website as slavery was abolished nearly two centuries ago, but anti-slavery groups estimate that between 21 million and 38.5 million people are trapped in involuntary employment. With the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, the UK Government is requesting (not “requiring“) companies to take steps to ensure slave labour is not used in their supply chains. The legislation was passed in March, is likely to come into force in shortly (exact date to be confirmed following consultation) and applies to companies with a revenue in excess of £36m.

The purpose of the act is to require larger businesses to be transparent about what they are doing to address this global issue. It requires any commercial organisation supplying goods and services wholly or partly in the UK with a turnover in excess of £36m to produce a Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement for each financial year. The statement must be approved and signed at the highest level, for example by a Board of Directors, and must be prominently displayed, for example on a corporate website, so it is visible to interested parties, members of the public and NGOs.

A Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement must describe the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any part of it’s own business or in its supply chain. This statement may incude information about:

  • The organisation’s structure, it’s business and its 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 part of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps 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 and supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate
  • The training about slavery and human trafficking that it makes available to its staff.

Interestingly, businesses could comply with the legislation by publishing a statement that they are doing “Nothing”, although this approach risks attracting negative stakeholder, public, and media attention …

(Image copyright Liz Ackerley, with thanks. Click on the image or visit her blog here)