Are You Compliant With Modern Slavery Legislation?

By Andrew Willis
29 Aug 2019

The existence of modern slavery poses a significant threat to thousands of workers across the globe. Are you aware of your obligations surrounding it?

Modern Slavery Legislation

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery takes place when individuals are forced into ‘slavery, servitude and forced labour.’

Despite efforts by legal bodies to tackle the issue, it remains prevalent in the operation of numerous companies.

Do I need to produce a modern slavery statement?

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, if your organisation has an annual turnover of £36 million or more, you must produce a modern slavery statement each year for public viewing.

You should publish the statement within six months of the financial year end.

What should the statement include?

It must outline the steps your organisation has taken to ensure modern slavery doesn’t exist within your business or supply chain.

The statements don’t have to demonstrate that an entire supply chain is slavery free; they need to demonstrate what you’ve done, or not done, to encourage this.

Government guidance outlines that statements should:

  • Note any existing policies that relate to slavery and human trafficking,
  • State all training available to staff to identify modern slavery
  • All due diligence processes in place

Write the statement in plain English, have a director sign it and publish on your official website. Any statements from previous years should remain available for the sake of transparency.

What should I look out for?

Modern slavery—unfortunately—does still exist in the UK, despite scepticism from a number of reputable employers.

You should be particularly wary when taking on new staff, especially when provided by unfamiliar employment agencies. Firms can hire workers in good faith who are being forced to work by criminal organisations.

You should also maintain awareness of the business practices of all companies in your supply chain.

What’s being done to tackle modern slavery?

One of the difficulties with preventing modern slavery is that it’s often hidden in plain sight, with victims fearful of coming forward and reporting traffickers due to threats of violence or abuse.

The Home Office have released a consultation examining whether reporting requirements need to be made stricter, which is to close in September 2019.

The consultation considers a number of options, including:

  • Mandatory reporting areas, rather than suggested areas, to make statements more comprehensive and uniform
  • Introducing a single annual reporting deadline
  • Requirement to upload all statements to an online portal

If you have to produce a report, make sure you are up to date with their legal requirements in this area.

Remember, if you fail to comply within any particular financial year, the Secretary of State can seek an injunction through the High Court.

If you ignore the injunction, then your organisation is in contempt of court and may be subject to an unlimited fine.

Expert support

If you’re unsure whether your modern slavery statement is legally compliant and you want to avoid an unlimited fine, speak to a employment law expert today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.