Employers required to produce modern slavery statements from October 2015

Teenage girls at a brick factory in Kolkata, India in 2014
Teenage girls at a brick factory in Kolkata, India in 2014. Photo: Arindam Banerjee / Shutterstock

Large employers will have to publish a modern slavery statement for each financial year, the Government has confirmed.

The requirement to produce a “slavery and human trafficking statement”, setting out the steps taken to ensure no slavery exists in organisations’ supply chains, is being introduced via section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The Act introduces a variety of changes to UK anti-slavery measures, including the consolidation of offences relating to slavery and human trafficking.

Only commercial organisations carrying out business in the UK with an annual turnover of at least £36 million will be required to publish a statement.

DLA Piper employment partner Jonathan Exten-Wright commented: “The legislation will have a broad impact and effect business very quickly. There is an immediate need for businesses to engage on this subject and prepare to publish a modern slavery statement.”

There will be transitional provisions so that statements are not required where a business’s financial year ends close to the date on which the duty comes into force.

Exten-Wright continued: “While some transitional relief is expected, the reality is that this is a matter of urgency given the complexity of many supply chains.

Californian model

The new rule follows the model adopted in California, where certain employers must post a notice that contains information regarding slavery and human trafficking.

“Businesses will need to address how this is integrated into their existing risk management systems, how they undertake due diligence, their supply chain relationships and planning for appropriate director sign off.

“Business should not underestimate just how dramatic this legislation is, not least in terms of their reputation as this will be an iterative process every year.”

The Government has promised to produce statutory guidance on how to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement.

Businesses that responded to the Government’s public consultation have asked for the guidance to include “a clear steer on when a statement should be published, advice on where it should be published and ideas as to how modern slavery could be identified”.

Slavery and human trafficking statement

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 states that the employer’s slavery and human trafficking statement might 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.

 

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