UK: UK Modern Slavery Act – Impact On GCC Employers And Operations

Recent years have witnessed the development of a complex and extra-territorial body of law contained in international guidelines, treaties and legislation that multinationals must take into account with regard to good governance and best practice. Much of this law is designed to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and labour law compliance. The latest law of significance in this area is the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) which, whilst a UK law, will have significant implications for employers in the Middle East who also operate in the UK.

The MSA – An Overview

Supply chain transparency and accountability

A key focus of the MSA is a duty on any business operating in the UK to ensure its supply chains are clean of practices which can be classed as 'modern slavery', (a term encompassing slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking). The principal provision is section 54 which requires commercial organisations that; supply goods or services, have a global turnover of Ł36 million or more (including turnover from subsidiaries) and carry on business in the UK (the Reporting Organisations), to produce an "annual slavery and human trafficking statement" (the Statement).

The Statement must be approved by the Board of directors, signed by a director (or equivalent), published on the company's website and accessible by link in a prominent place on the homepage. If a Reporting Organisation does not have a website, it must provide a copy to anyone who makes a written request for the Statement within 30 days of receipt of the request.

What is to be contained in the Statement?

The Statement must be either; (1) a statement of the steps the Reporting Organisation has taken, during the financial year, to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains or in any part of its own business anywhere in the world; or (2) a statement that the Reporting Organisation has taken no such steps. "Supply chain" has its everyday meaning and includes both direct and indirect suppliers of goods or services and also extends to joint venture partners and contractors. 

The MSA is not prescriptive in terms of the Statement's content or format, but does provide that the Statement "may include":

  1. The Reporting Organisation's structure, its business and its supply chains.
  2. Information about its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking.
  3. Its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains.
  4. The parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps taken to assess and manage that risk.
  5. The Reporting Organisation's 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.
  6. The training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.

Statements will vary depending on the nature of the Reporting Organisation's business and the complexity of its supply chains.

Consequences of non-compliance

Failure to produce the Statement may result in the company being injuncted to do so and if failure to comply persists then the imposition of an unlimited fine.

Impact on GCC employers and operations

Whether a business operates in the UK is a key consideration when assessing the impact of the MSA on non UK incorporated businesses. The status of subsidiaries of UK companies or joint ventures in which they are involved is also paramount. If a non UK subsidiary or joint venture is run completely independently then it is arguably not covered by the MSA. However, such entities may be caught by acting as a contractor or supplier to a UK company that must report under the MSA.

In any case, one of the key effects of the MSA is that it empowers, and is implicitly designed to empower, NGOs and other civil society operators to monitor and report on compliance with the MSA, including in relation to the production of Statements and their content. KnowTheChain and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre are two such organisations which have been very active in this space, together with organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. One can currently witness a sustained campaign in the British press regarding Middle East based employing entities linked to UK companies.

Assessing risk in GCC supply chains: Hotspots

One of the policy objectives of the MSA is to hold Reporting Organisations accountable for labour exploitation in their supply chains and to incentivise them to use their economic power and influence to tackle any issues that are identified. As part of this accountability and compliance process, Reporting Organisations are encouraged to conduct risk assessments to determine which parts of the organisation's business, including its suppliers, are most at risk of modern slavery. Given the wide definition of "supply chains", the organisations captured will be notable and will include contractors, consultants, and providers of recruitment services, or housing.

The four main areas for risk are likely to be:

  • Passport retention which is actually unlawful in the GCC without employee consent;
  • Employees paying recruitment fees (usually large amounts) to secure employment (again this practice is unlawful in the GCC);
  • Pay rates and overtime rates and hours; and
  • Workers accommodation.

Mitigating Risk and Remedial Action

The following measures can be put in place:

  • Due Diligence: every organisation should perform due diligence (including pre-screening and auditing) on its practices (and those of its suppliers) to identify potential risks and action points. Investigating practices is key with monitoring and investigation being required both locally where the employees are working and also in their home countries of recruitment to weed out bad recruitment practices in particular;
  • Charters: tying in providers of goods and services is also key and is an area where charters of rights and charters of conduct can be useful. All providers and contractors can be requested to subscribe to such charters;
  • Contractual warranties and indemnities: these can tie suppliers into contractual undertakings to comply with applicable labour laws and best practice;
  • Policies and procedures to enable internal reporting / whistle-blowing: such policies can encourage individuals to report wrongdoing on site and consideration needs to be given on how far anonymity can be maintained; and
  • Training: providing training within the business and also to suppliers on obligations, processes to be followed, any charters such as workers charters or codes of conduct and ethics will be a key indication of the steps taken to ensure compliance.

It is very important to emphasise that a key factor in ensuring compliance with MSA is ensuring compliance with GCC labour laws. This includes complying with not only the obligations under the applicable labour law, but also the decisions, orders and resolutions issued thereunder and all other laws and standards related to employment conditions. Some important areas of local compliance will be adhering to statutory obligations with respect to:

  • Workplace health and safety, for example, providing adequate training to protect employees from hazards, providing appropriate personal protection equipment and complying with the standards of medical care to be provided for labourers;
  • Maximum hours of work and overtime, including any applicable local requirements regarding hours of work under sunrays and providing employees with breaks from work;
  • Accommodation standards, including providing employees with the mandated amenities (water, water storage, pumps, gas, sanitation, telecommunication network etc.);
  • Payment of employee wages through the Wages Protection System (WPS), where applicable; and
  • Providing health insurance to employees (and the employee's spouse and dependants, if required), in accordance with local statutory requirements

UK Modern Slavery Act – Impact On GCC Employers And Operations

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

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

Sara Khoja
Brett Hartley
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
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
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.