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UK Modern Slavery Act & Modern Slavery Registry

Our Modern Slavery Registry has moved: see www.modernslaveryregistry.org.

The Modern Slavery Bill was introduced to Parliament on 10 June 2014 and passed into law on 26 March 2015. The full text of the Act can be accessed here.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre maintains a public track record of companies' statements under the UK Modern Slavery Act. The new Modern Slavery Registry website contains over 1860 statements from companies in 27 sectors, headquartered in 29 countries. 

While the UK Modern Slavery Act was largely welcomed by civil society, serious concerns have been raised about its limitations.  Below is a selection of material relating to the Act including commentaries by leading business figures and NGOs.

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31 May 2016

UK: Private members bill seeks amendments to Modern Slavery Act including requiring companies to publish disclosure statements in annual report & accounts

Author: Baroness Young of Hornsey, House of Lords (UK)

A Bill to Require commercial organisations and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual report and accounts; and to require contracting authorities to exclude from procurement procedures economic operators who have not provided such a statement; and for connected purposes....[would also require] The Secretary of State...[to]publish a list of all commercial organisations that are required to publish a statement under this section...categorised according to sector.]...
 

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Article
21 April 2016

UK: Recent convictions of business owners over modern slavery provides cautionary tale for global businesses

Author: Michael Quayle, of Freshfields in Lexology

"Modern Slavery - Closer Than You Think?", 11 Apr 2016

January 2016 saw what has been reported as the first conviction of a UK-based business owner for a human trafficking offence...Mohammed Rafiq, owner of the UK bed-making business Kozee Sleep, was convicted of conspiracy to traffic by Leeds Crown Court... Rafiq’s conviction followed that of two Hungarian gangmasters who were found guilty of supplying the UK factories run by KozeeSleep and its subsidiary Layzee Sleep with slave labour...In the wake of the Rafiq case, the Anti-Slavery Commissioner promised that there will be "many more" convictions to come...There has also been an upturn in slavery-related civil claims in the UK, with a group of Lithuanian workers suing Kent-based “Happy Egg” producer DJ Houghton and its directors for forcing them to work...in inhuman and degrading conditions. These two cases provide a cautionary tale for global businesses...With the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, increasingly close attention will be paid to the efforts made by global businesses in this regard, and they will need to carefully review existing policies and procedures worldwide to ensure they are adequate.

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Article
27 November 2015

The Modern Slavery Act 2015: corporate reporting requirements to tackle slavery in supply chains

Author: Elise Groulx Diggs, Doughty Street Intl., Catherine Meredith, Doughty Street Chambers, Vera Padberg, Doughty Street Intl.

First, the starting point should be human rights due diligence to tackle slavery and trafficking in supply chains as found in the UN  Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the ‘Ruggie’ principles).

Secondly, and practically speaking, the reporting obligation will only apply to financial years starting on or after the 1st of April 2016. Companies, therefore, do not have long to gear up for this new obligation, and numerous changes may be required to ensure compliance. Some of these changes may include:

  • Engaging with the key areas identified by the Government in the response to the consultation (above) and considering how to address these with a focus on human rights due diligence;
  • Developing anti-slavery and human trafficking policies; and/or including these in  corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies;
  • Developing processes to investigate business and supply chain (contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, contracts, etc.) to determine the level of risk or exposure to risk;
  • Identifying and prioritising high risk areas in the supply chain and planning and setting out what steps are being taken to address the risks;
  • Appointing senior individual(s) within companies with responsibility for investigation, compliance and the production of the statement;
  • Identifying training needs within companies to ensure that all responsible staff involved in supply chain management and procurement are aware of the new obligations;
  • Putting effective grievance and whistle blowing mechanisms in place to cover any concerns about slavery or human trafficking within any business or supply chain.

Thirdly, it may also assist to prepare a draft statement as soon as possible to ensure consideration and avoid having to rush as the obligation deadline approaches.

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Article
30 October 2015

UK firms must show proof they have no links to slave labour under new rules

Author: Amelia Gentleman, Guardian (UK)

British companies are to be forced to publish evidence on their websites that their operations are not reliant on international slavery, under legislation aimed at exposing details of supply chains to public scrutiny...Under the new rules, which come into force on Thursday, large UK-based firms will release information showing they are taking steps to ensure none of the businesses with which they trade use slave labour...About 17,000 UK businesses will have to publish these statements before the end of their financial year. Officials hope organisations campaigning against modern slavery will monitor the statements and name companies that are not taking any action.

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Article
29 October 2015

A few questions and answers about the Modern Slavery Act

Author: Steve Gibbons, Ergon Associates

The supply chain transparency provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 come into effect today (29 October 2015).

The new rules, contained in S.54 of the Act, are a significant step forward in both promoting transparency in relation to company actions relation to modern slavery and also may be an important push towards greater private sector positive activity on human rights due diligence in general.

Comprehensive guidance on the transparency provision has been published by the UK Government. However, below we set out a few issues companies and those who scrutinise companies might want to start thinking about...

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Article
29 October 2015

UK Home Office guidance on Modern Slavery Act transparency requirements

Author: UK Home Office

Statutory guidance relating to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires certain organisations to develop a slavery and human trafficking statement each year. The slavery and human trafficking statement should set out what steps organisations have taken to ensure modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chains.

This document provides guidance on:

  • who is required to publish a statement
  • how to write a slavery and human trafficking statement
  • how to approve and publish the statement

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Article
18 August 2015

10 steps organisations should take to start preparing to comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act

Author: Colleen Theron, CLT Envirolaw

Download the full document here

Item
5 August 2015

Shift maps supply chain reporting provision in UK's Modern Slavery Act against UN Guiding Principles

Author: Shift

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act...is a critical step forwards in strengthening company disclosure on efforts to prevent some of the most serious abuses that exist in today’s global supply chains...However, the Act has raised questions for many UK companies about the relationship between its provisions...and their broader responsibility to respect human rights. What exactly are they being asked to report on relating to modern slavery? And how does this new reporting requirement relate to what they are already doing to implement the UN Guiding Principles? This short analysis by Shift aims to help companies and other stakeholders understand the relationship between the provisions of the Act and the expectations of the UN Guiding Principles.

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Item
29 July 2015

CORE says UK Govt. must ensure that new measures shine a light into company supply chain practices

Author: CORE Coalition

CORE welcomes today’s announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron that companies with a turnover of more than £36 million will be required to report on slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains from October...CORE is now calling on the government to provide clear guidelines to business, detailing: the steps they are taking to assess and manage the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains; their organisational structure; policies; and staff training on the issue. The government must also ensure that a centralised repository for all slavery and human trafficking statements is established. Without this, it will be very difficult for investors, consumers and civil society organisations to find out what actions companies are taking, and to hold them to account.

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Item
29 July 2015

UK Govt. to require companies with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual slavery & human trafficking statement from October

Author: UK Prime Minister's Office & Home Office

David Cameron will seek to work more closely with the Vietnamese government to combat human trafficking as he visits Vietnam...The diplomatic efforts come as the government prepares to step up efforts at home to end the modern slavery trade. A raft of new measures enshrined in the Modern Slavery Act will come into force on Friday...The government will also announce today that from October it will force companies with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. This measure is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and will cover all large businesses who do business in the UK and have supply chains elsewhere in the world, for example South East Asia. In this statement a business must describe the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of their supply chains or their own business, or they must disclose that they have taken no such steps.

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