Australia: Modern Slavery – How New Legislation Will Affect Australian Businesses

Last Updated: 9 September 2018
Article by Geoff Cairns, Ben Allen and Brendan Milne

In an effort to reduce modern slavery in the supply chain practices of Australian businesses, organisations must now take steps to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW), which was passed on 21 June 2018. Organisations will also need to consider what additional actions they need to take should the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 pass Federal parliament.With an estimated two thirds of global modern slavery taking place in the Asia Pacific region, the supply chain practices of Australian businesses are coming under increasing scrutiny.

On 21 June 2018, New South Wales became the first Australian jurisdiction to pass modern slavery specific legislation, in the form of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) ('NSW Act'). In addition, the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 ('Cth Bill') was introduced to Federal Parliament on 28 June 2018.

Both regimes impose new reporting obligations on businesses to identify and detail their actions to address risks of modern slavery in their supply chains. Both pieces of legislation mandate supply chain reporting dealing with the organisation's consideration of and response to modern slavery in its supply chains.   

This means it is crucial that Australian businesses understand their obligations and take steps now to ensure they are compliant before the legislation comes into effect.

What is 'modern slavery'?

The NSW Act provides a broad definition of 'modern slavery', which includes:

'any conduct involving the use of any form of slavery, servitude or forced labour to exploit children or other persons taking place in the supply chains of government agencies or non-government agencies'.

This definition covers a number of offences under the Crimes Act 1900 (Cth), Human Tissue Act 1983 (NSW) and Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

NSW Act

Under the NSW Act, certain commercial organisations in New South Wales will need to publish a publicly available "modern slavery statement". This applies to companies, partnerships and associations that:

  • have employees in NSW;
  • supply goods and services for profit or gain;
  • have a total turnover of not less than $50 million in a financial year; and
  • are not a NSW government agency.

Every organisation that meets these criteria must prepare and publish a modern slavery statement containing the following information:

  • the structure and nature of the business, including information regarding supply chains;
  • due diligence and remedial processes undertaken in respect of modern slavery;
  • risk areas within the business and supply chain for potential incidences of modern slavery and the steps taken to mitigate those risks; and
  • training practices available in regards to modern slavery.

The NSW Act contains a range of penalties of up to AU$1.1 million for companies who:

  • fail to prepare a modern slavery statement;
  • fail to publish a modern slavey statement publicly in accordance with the NSW Act Regulations; or
  • knowingly provide false and misleading information in a modern slavery statement.

However, the requirement to publish a modern slavery statement will not apply to an organisation that is subject to another comparable regime – likely to include the Cth Bill if an when it is passed and comes into effect.

The NSW Act also creates an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, tasked with promoting awareness, education, advocacy and advice. The Anti-Slavery Commissioner is also responsible for maintaining a public register that identifies the incidence of modern slavery in organisations' supply chains.

Cth Bill

The Cth Bill was introduced and had its first reading in June 2018. In its current form the mandated reporting obligations are similar to those under the NSW Act and proposes to obligate eligible entities to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains by publishing a modern slavery statement, which will be available online through a government run register.

If passed, the Cth Bill will apply to the following entities:

  • all Australian entities, and foreign entities carrying on business in Australia, with an annual turnover of at least AU$100 million;
  • the Commonwealth; and
  • a corporate Commonwealth entity or a Commonwealth companies with annual revenue of at least AU$100 million.

However, unlike the NSW Act, the Cth Bill will also apply to not-for-profit entities and foreign entities carrying out business in Australia. Furthermore, the Cth Bill does not impose penalties for non-compliance.

International legislation

These developments in Australia follow the United Kingdom's Modern Slavery Act 2015 (UK Act) (discussed in our previous alert), which some foreign entities doing business in Australia may already be required to comply with.

Although comparable to the UK Act, the Australian regimes impose further requirements. It is important that businesses that operate in both jurisdictions understand their obligations under both regimes and ensure compliance.

Unlike the UK Act, the Australian regime dictates the content of the statements rather than providing a list of optional matters. In addition, the Australian modern slavery statements must also be freely accessible online.

How to comply

Organisations that do business in Australia must consider whether they will be subject to either the NSW Act or Cth Bill. If so, those organisations should consider take steps to ensure such as:

  • notifying suppliers of the new legislation;
  • undertaking audits or due diligence in relation to slavery within supply chains;
  • training employees and members of supply chains on modern slavery regulatory requirements;
  • reviewing/ introducing company policies on anti-slavery;
  • incorporating obligations under the modern slavery legislation into supplier contracts;
  • introducing measures to address any risks identified in supply chains; and
  • implementing processes to evaluate effectiveness of such measures.

Foreign entities doing business in Australia who currently comply with similar requirements overseas (such as the UK Act) should review their existing anti-slavery frameworks to ensure consistency with Australian requirements.

How can Dentons assist?

Dentons has international experience assisting organisations in complying with modern slavery reporting obligations. In addition to assisting Australian organisations with meeting the requirements under the Australian regimes, Dentons can help ensure UK entities doing business in Australia comply with their obligations under both the UK Act and Cth Bill.

Some of the ways Dentons can assist include:

  • conducting audits of supply chains;
  • creating internal policies and corporate governance guidelines regarding modern slavery;
  • reviewing supply and procurement contracts; and
  • reviewing draft modern slavery statements to ensure compliance.

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
17 Oct 2018, Seminar, Washington, DC, United States

Earn up to six hours of credits towards Virginia's October 31 MCLE compliance deadline (credit approval is pending) at this full-day program.

25 Oct 2018, Other, New York, United States

Once again, Dentons is proud to bring together insurance industry leaders, lawyers and regulators for a full-day examination of the most current issues.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Holley Nethercote commercial & financial services lawyers
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Holley Nethercote commercial & financial services lawyers
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions