Modern Slavery Act 2015 – have you produced your slavery and human trafficking statement?


This Act requires large organisations that carry on business in the UK to publicly state each year the action they have taken to ensure that their business and supply chains are slavery free.

This provision applies to financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016 and although there is no prescribed time limit in which to make the statement, the Home Office guidance provides that an organisation:

• is expected to publish its slavery and human trafficking statement as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of the financial year;
• may decide to publish the statement alongside its annual or non-financial reports;
• is encouraged to report within six months of the end of the financial year.


Are you subject to the Act?


You will have to produce such a statement for each financial year if:


•    you are a body corporate or a partnership, wherever incorporated or formed, which carries on a business ( covers supply of goods or services) or part of a business in any part of the UK, and
•    you have an annual total turnover of £36 million or more – this covers global turnover and not just turnover in the UK and includes parent and subsidiary companies in the organisation’s group.  This £36 million turnover threshold corresponds with the Companies Act 2006 threshold for determining the size of a large company.


What conduct constitutes slavery and human trafficking?


This is a wide term and constitutes any offences of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, human trafficking and traffic in prostitution.


What steps should you be taking to address slavery and human trafficking in your organisation


The Act’s aim is to incentivise better policies and processes to avoid modern slavery from occurring in an organisation’s business and supply chains. You may already be undertaking procedures or have specific policies that go some way to address the issue of modern slavery and may already be disclosing this in some form.


For example some companies may already report on human rights and slavery issues through their corporate responsibility reporting, or though disclosures under the UK Corporate Governance Code or via the requirements for quoted companies to disclose in their strategic reports information about social, community and human rights.


The process needs to start with you identifying the modern slavery and trafficking risk for your business and its sector, map out your supply chains, both immediate and then further levels, and  engage with stakeholders to assists with this. You then need to consider how you can prevent or reduce these risks, e.g. auditing your supply chains, demonstrating how your general and specific approaches address these human rights impacts, how you are progressing and your plans for continuous improvement, including training for your own workforce or creating a set of specific KPIs to assess your organisation`s impact on human rights.


What does the statement need to cover, who should approve it and where should it be published?


The Home Office guidance recommends that the statement should be:
•    written in simple language to ensure that it is easily accessible to everyone.
•    succinct but cover all the relevant points and link to relevant publications, documents or policies.
•    in English, but may be provided in other languages that are relevant to your supply chain.


There is no prescribed format for the statement but it must include either a statement:
•    of the steps you have taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of your supply chains, and in any part of your own business; or
•    that you have taken no such steps.


The statement must then be approved by the board of directors and signed by a director – this is because the Act wants a top down approach and proper attention to be paid to the issues of slavery – and it must then be published on your website with a link to the statement in a prominent place in your homepage.


What happens if you are not in compliance?


The Secretary of State has the power to enforce the duty to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement by way of injunction.  Failure to comply with an injunction is contempt of a court order which is punishable by an unlimited fine. However a key deterrent is that if you have not complied with the Act or if you report that your organisation has taken no steps to ensure that slavery is not taking place, is the damage this will cause to your reputation and brand.


Confused or don’t know where to start then we can help guide you though the legislation, Home Office guidance and best practice. Just contact Daljit Singh, or Linda Fletcher.