The Modern Slavery Act 2015 deals with a variety of matters relating to slavery and human trafficking. The authors of this article explain 10 important points businesses need to know about the Act.
1. WHAT IS THE MODERN SLAVERY ACT 2015 AND WHY DO BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT?
The Modern Slavery Act deals with a variety of matters relating to slavery and human trafficking. The most relevant section for businesses is Section 54, which will require commercial organizations over a certain size to disclose what activities they have undertaken to eliminate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains and their own business.
2. WHAT IS THIS NEW DISCLOSURE OBLIGATION?
Affected businesses will be required to produce a so-called "slavery and human trafficking statement" every financial year that sets out the steps they have taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of their supply chains or in any part of their own business. If they have not taken such steps, this must be expressly stated.
Although it will be entirely possible for businesses to comply with this new duty by simply stating that they have taken no steps during the relevant financial year to ensure that their business and supply chains are slavery free, the government hopes that the risk of negative publicity (from consumers, the public, investors, etc.) will be sufficient to ensure that affected businesses do feel compelled to take some steps in this direction.
Businesses will be required to publish this statement on their Web site and there must be a prominent link to the statement on the homepage. If a business does not have a Web site, it must provide a copy of the statement to anyone who requests one in writing within 30 days.
3. WHAT IS "SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING"?
The term covers a number of specific offenses under the Act, but in very general terms slavery is where ownership is exercised over a person, where individuals are coerced into providing their services or do so under threat of a penalty. "Human trafficking" covers arranging or facilitating the...