The Modern Slavery Act: Insight Paper

Sue Adkins, International Director at Business in the Community, gives her insight into how business can respond to the UK Government's Modern Slavery Act.


The Modern Slavery Act: What you need to know

  • Company inclusion

Size: The Act will apply to all commercial organisations over a certain size, both listed and private, regardless of where they are headquartered. The size of business to report under the Act is currently being defined by Government. This criteria is due to be published in October 2015. The Act will apply to both listed and private, regardless of where they are headquartered.

Geography: The Act applies to companies operating in the UK and applies to their global operation. It does not require that a company has a certain size ‘footprint’ in the UK nor that it has to be commercially domiciled in UK. It is sufficient that any part of a business operation is taking place in any part of the UK, subject to the size criteria to be announced by government. The Act therefore has impact globally

  • Supply Chains wherever they are

A unique feature of The Act is it will require all businesses over a certain size to disclose what steps they have taken to ensure their business and supply chains, wherever they are, are free of slavery.

  • Disclosure Requirement – The ‘Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement’

The Act requires qualifying commercial organisations to produce a ‘Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement.’ disclosing what steps they have taken to ensure their business and supply chains are free of slavery. A statement will be required for each financial year. The statements need to be easily accessible and therefore there is the requirement for companies to include a link to their Statement in a prominent place on their website homepage. If a company does not have a website, The Act requires that they must provide a copy of their Statement within 30 days to anyone who makes a written request for one.

After a period of consultation between February and May 2015, the government is due to produce Statutory Guidance in in October. The Guidance is intended to help businesses understand what a slavery and human trafficking statement might include, thereby enabling them to produce high-quality and informative disclosures. It is anticipated that The Guidance will be practical and use case studies to illustrate good practice. The intention is that businesses determine, demonstrate and explain their policies and practices, relevant and specific to their own circumstances.

The Modern Slavery Act consolidates and simplifies existing modern slavery offences into one Act. The Act is intended to encourage business to take more action on this agenda.

The Act requires any businesses above a certain threshold operating any part of their business in the UK to report on what it is doing to address modern slavery throughout its supply chains, wherever they are, and so has UK and international implications.

Read the Act.

It is possible for a business to comply with the provision of The Act by simply stating that they have taken no steps during the financial year to ensure that their business and supply chains are slavery free. This obviously would have potential implications and impact on the business reputation. 

  • Government statutory guidance

BITC and the international picture

Advising on the Modern Slavery Act is just one of the many ways Business in the Community works, along with its members, for a fairer society and more sustainable future across the globe.  Throughout August, we'll be highlighting some of our international work.  Find out more on the pages about our international work.

Sustainable Development Goals:

Relates to SDG 16 - Peace and Justice, Strong Institutions.

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