What is the Modern Slavery Act 2015?
UK Government introduced the Act in October 2015 to increase the transparency of companies’ supply chains and structures to reduce human trafficking and slavery. The legislation requires all organisations that meet certain criteria to publish an annual modern slavery statement.
Your organisation must produce a modern slavery statement if it:
- Has a turnover or combined group turnover of £36M or more, and
- Operates within the UK or is incorporated in the UK.
The statement must be approved by the company’s board, signed by a director and clearly displayed on your website homepage.
In October 2018, the Home Office provided supplementary information on what to include in a modern slavery statement and how it must be displayed. Further guidance can be found on the Home Office website.
Why should it matter to my business?
Companies must demonstrate that they meet the minimum legal requirements of the Act. They must show the steps they are taking to ensure supply chains are free of human trafficking and slavery, and a proactive approach to reducing any risk relating to modern slavery. Organisations that fail to prepare and publish a modern slavery statement for each financial year will be non-compliant.
Following the submission deadline of 31stMarch 2019, the Home Office has commenced an audit of reporting under the Act with the intention of naming and shaming all companies in breach of the legislation.
Early Government reporting suggests more than 50% of reports submitted do not meet the requirements of the Act, are “poor in quality” or fail to show improvements year on year.
The risks associated with being named on such a list are substantial. The potential impact is far-reaching in terms of damage to reputation, business relationships and employee relations.
What should be included?
Government guidance states that reports should cover six key areas to fulfil basic requirements:
- Structure and supply chains
- Policies on modern slavery
- Due diligence processes
- Risk assessment
- Measuring effectiveness
- Employee training
How EML can help
Our team is well equipped to support clients to fulfil their reporting obligations under the Modern Slavery Act.
Organisations must be transparent about the actions they have taken to ensure that modern slavery is not occurring within their supply chains. Failing to do so may have damaging consequences to reputation and commercial success, particularly if you are seen to be maximising profits through exploitation.
The guidance given by the Government is quite broad, and you may have many questions when it comes to preparing your first statement. We can offer practical support with your initial risk assessments, internal policies, agreements with suppliers and considerations for outsourced contractors or labour. In terms of understanding the requirements of complex structured supply chains and subsidiaries, we can confirm the steps you need to take in ensuring legal compliance.
Our clients have also approached us for support with the content and format of their statements, given that they must be displayed in a prominent area of the company’s website. We can also help with practical issues such as approval processes and the provision of appropriate supporting documentation.
Further measures an organisation can take to help combat modern slavery include due diligence audits, more robust internal policies such as whistleblowing, employee training and enhanced supplier agreements; all of which we can support you with.
If you would like guidance on reporting under the Modern Slavery Act or other areas of employment law, please contact our team for a no-obligation discussion.