The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is a groundbreaking new law that
will have a major impact on businesses in the UK.
The Act requires certain businesses to produce an annual Slavery
and Human Trafficking Statement setting out what steps they have
taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in their business and
their supply chains. The Government believes that this transparency
will make businesses more accountable to the public, consumers and
their employees with the result that they will be forced to change
To whom does the Act apply?
The Act came into force in October 2015 and applies to
commercial organisations (companies or partnerships) that:
are based inside or outside the UK
and carry on business within it;
have a turnover of more than
£36million worldwide (including subsidiaries); and
have a financial year ending on or
after 31 March 2016. For businesses with a year end after that date
they need not comply until next year.
How to comply with the Act?
The commercial organisation must publish an annual statement
setting out in detail what steps it has taken over the past
financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not
taking place in its business and its supply chains, at any level.
The statement must be published in a "prominent place" on
the home page of its website.
There is no set form of statement but the Act suggests this
should cover certain key points, including details of:
the corporate structure of the
organisation, details of how it operates and a map of its supply
the business's internal policies
relating to slavery and human trafficking and its due diligence
processes to prevent slavery and human trafficking in its supply
a risk assessment of the areas of the
business and its supply chains where there may be a risk of slavery
and human trafficking;
the key performance indicators that
it will use to benchmark its effectiveness at preventing slavery
and human trafficking; and
the training offered to staff about
slavery and human trafficking.
The statement must be signed off by the board of directors
before it is published.
How is the Act enforced?
The Secretary of State has power to apply to the court for an
order requiring a statement to be published. It is believed this
would create adverse publicity for the organisation concerned.
What steps should you take now?
Businesses should start by assessing their risk profile with
regard to slavery and human trafficking and areas of the business
that may be most susceptible to it.
Other practical steps could include:
providing special training for staff
who may be at risk of exposure to slavery and human trafficking
and, if necessary, to suppliers as well;
developing specific policies and
procedures dealing with slavery and human trafficking and
appointing a compliance officer responsible for enforcing the
reviewing any related policies such
as the policies on bribery and corruption and human rights;
carrying out due diligence and risk
assessments in relation to supply chains;
introducing key performance
indicators to measure the effect of action taken to eliminate
slavery and human trafficking.
This article is designed to give general information on the
developments covered, not to serve as legal advice related to
specific situations or as a legal opinion. Counsel should be
consulted for legal advice.
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