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Modern Slavery Act - reporting duty now in force

From 29 October 2015 section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires a commercial organisation with a turnover of £36 million and over that supplies goods or services to publicly report steps it has taken to ensure its operations and supply chains are trafficking and slavery free. Organisations with a year end date before 31 March 2016 will not be required to publish a statement for this financial year end.

The duty applies to businesses that carry on business in the UK, wherever they are incorporated.

Section 54 provides examples of the type of information that may be included in the statement. This includes information about the organisation’s structure and its supply chains, its policies and due diligence procedures in relation to trafficking and modern slavery. It also may include details of the training given to staff about modern slavery and information regarding the effectiveness of the measures it has in place in ensuring that slavery and trafficking are not part of the organisation or its supply chains.

The Government has now issued Guidance to assist organisations. The Guidance sets out that it expects organisations to publish their statements as soon as reasonably practicable after year end and encourages organisations to publish within six months of their financial year end.

The statement must be approved by the Board (or similar in other legal entities) and must be published on the company’s website. In practice, the legal penalties for failing to comply with the reporting requirements are weak – the Secretary of State could seek an injunction requiring compliance but the essence of the reporting requirement is to encourage good practice and the Guidance recognises that it will be for consumers, investors and NGOs to apply pressure where it is considered that an organisation has failed to take sufficient steps. The Guidance also recognises that an organisation will seek to build the content of its statement over consecutive years as they develop their response to tackling trafficking and modern slavery.

Posted on 11/04/2015 by Ortolan

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