Large Businesses Obliged to Prepare Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement from October 2015
From October 2015, new laws will require commercial organisations to report publicly on the steps they have taken to ensure that their operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.
Modern slavery encompasses slavery, forced labour and human trafficking. Whilst the food, hospitality, agriculture and construction sectors are particularly vulnerable, the duty to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement is not limited to these sectors.
The new laws, in the Modern Slavery Act 2015, will apply to commercial organisations supplying goods or services and which have a turnover of £36m or more. This includes partnerships (including general partnerships and limited liability partnerships) and bodies corporate, wherever incorporated, which carry on business or part of a business in the UK.
A slavery and human trafficking statement will have to be prepared for each financial year and published on the organisation’s website, with a prominent link from the home page. Where an organisation does not have a website, it will have to provide a copy on request within 30 days. The statement will have to be approved by the board (or equivalent management body) and signed by a director (or equivalent).
The Act provides that the statement may contain information about:
- the organisation's structure, its business and supply chains;
- its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
- its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
- the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
- its 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; and
- the training available to its staff.
The Government is expected to publish statutory guidance on the content of the statement in October 2015.
There are no financial penalties for non-compliance but the Secretary of State may enforce the duty by way of an injunction.
The Government has indicated that there will be transitional provisions to allow businesses sufficient time to prepare their statements where their financial year end is close to October 2015. Nevertheless organisations affected by the new laws need to start preparing now.
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