17 May 2016
Modern Slavery Reporting Requirements
Following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies of a certain size are now legally required to publish an annual statement setting out the steps they are taking to ensure there is no modern slavery in their own business, or those of their supply chains.
The new reporting measures, which apply to every company that operates in the UK with a turnover of more than £36 million, are part of a wider Government strategy to crackdown on modern slavery and associated criminality, and cover the offences of ‘slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, and human trafficking’.
A company’s annual statement should detail the steps they have taken during the previous financial year and must be certified by a Board member and published on their website with a link in a prominent place on the homepage. Companies with a year end of 31 March 2016 are the first who are required to publish a statement; companies whose financial year ended prior to 31 March 2016 are not required to produce a statement for 2015/16. The Home Office advises that statements should be published as soon as reasonably practicable and within 6 months of the year end. Failure to publish a statement could result in a high court injunction compelling a company to produce a statement and non-compliance with the injunction would be punishable by an unlimited fine.
Home Office guidance suggests that companies include information on the following within their statement:
• their policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking
• due diligence processes taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in their business and those of their supply chains
• areas where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking in their operations and how that is being managed
• their performance indicators on preventing modern slavery and how effective they are in meeting them
• any relevant training available to staff.
Construction supply chains are often complex with a number of contractors and suppliers and companies are not expected to include a guarantee that no instances of modern slavery have occurred. However, companies must set out the steps they have taken to try to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking part in any part of their supply chains.
If a company has not taken any actions on modern slavery during the year, then it should publish a statement saying ‘no action taken’. This would meet the legal reporting requirements of the Act, although the guidance makes the case for businesses showing their clients that they have taken action in this area.
Anyone concerned about a potential instance of modern slavery should call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.