UK: Modern Slavery Statements – A Reminder And Proposals For Reform

Last Updated: 13 June 2019
Article by Chris Priestley and Kate Taylor

Most Read Contributor in UK, July 2019

The government has released the final report from its independent review into the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the 'Act'), which was commissioned after the UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery was published in October 2018.

The review focused on four areas: transparency in supply chains, the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, the Act's legal application, and the safeguarding of child victims of Modern Slavery.

This article focuses in particular on the transparency in supply chains provisions, covered by section 54 of the Act, can require some charities to publish a "slavery and human trafficking statement" and other relevant aspects of the Act.

Modern Slavery Statements – a reminder

The transparency in supply chains provisions apply to organisations that meet the following four criteria:

  • A commercial organisation – this is widely defined as a body corporate or partnership and means that charitable companies, charitable incorporated organisations and charitable community benefit societies are included (charitable trusts and charitable unincorporated associations are not included);
  • That is carrying on a business in the UK – this would be any commercial activity, irrespective of the purpose for which the profits are made (for example, selling donated goods to fundraise);
  • That supplies goods and services – this requirement is distinct from the requirement to carry on a business and the supply of goods and services may be the work the charity does to fulfil its charitable objects (for example, a disaster relief charity may supply food and healthcare);
  • And has a total turnover of not less than £36 million – this is the total income of the charity and its subsidiaries which is derived from any charitable activity associated with the provision of goods and services, including performance-related grants, funding for the provision of goods and services and income from fundraising events (income from pure donations, legacies and investments is not typically included).

A charity that fulfils these requirements must publish a modern slavery statement stating what steps it has taken during the financial year to address modern slavery risks in its supply chains. If no such steps have been taken, the statement must say that. The statement must be approved by the board of trustees, signed by a trustee, and published in a prominent position on the charity's website.

There are currently no criminal sanctions for failing to produce a statement and the most pressing concern for charities is likely to be the reputational damage they may face for failing to address issues of modern slavery. However, it is important to note that the Home Office can apply for an injunction to force an organisation to publish a statement and failure to comply can result in a potentially unlimited fine.

If charity trustees considers that section 54 does not apply to the charity, trustees should document their decision and reasoning carefully and consider taking other steps such as implementing a modern slavery policy or reviewing staff training and reporting requirements.

Issues with Compliance

As noted in our previous coverage, the 2018 UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery, published October 2018, raised two concerns in relation to compliance with section 54:

  • Organisations within the scope of the legislation are not publishing the required statements; and
  • Many statements that have been published are of poor quality

Following the report, the Home Office wrote to 17,000 businesses informing them that they must either publish a statement or improve the quality of the statement they have published. We know that many charities who are not in fact caught by the Act did receive these letters.

The Home Office also updated its guidance document, "Transparency in supply chains: a practical guide", to require publication "at most within six months of the financial year end" and to encourage organisations to keep historic statements online.

Proposals for Reform: The Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act

The independent review published an interim report in January 2019 which was incorporated into May's final report and made a number of proposals to improve compliance with section 54. The review also addressed the concern that many organisations see the Modern Slavery Statement as a "tick-box" exercise and not a serious regulatory and governance obligation. The Review's proposals included:

  • Clarifying which organisations fall within the scope of section 54 – the government should publish a list of the organisations which it considers to meet the four criteria listed above, but this list should not be definitive and would not take away the responsibility of organisations to assess whether they fit the criteria themselves;
  • Improving the quality of statements – organisations should not be allowed to report that they have taken 'no steps' to address modern slavery and the six topics that organisations are currently advised to include in their statement should be mandatory;
  • Increasing the importance of modern slavery reporting – the statement should be included in companies' annual reports and a board member should be nominated to be accountable for producing the statement
  • Monitoring compliance – the government should create an online repository for statements and introduce a system of warnings, fines, court summons and director disqualifications for failure to publish a statement
  • Extending the requirements – the obligation to produce a statement should be extended to the public sector to include, for example, local authorities, NHS trusts and police forces (many of which have already voluntarily published Modern Slavery Statements).

The extent to which these proposals will be implemented remains to be seen.

In the meantime, if your charity has any concerns about complying with the Modern Slavery Act or would like assistance in relation to preparing a Modern Slavery Statement, please contact a member of the Charities team.

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.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please 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 (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

To Use 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.


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.


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