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The Modern Slavery Act: what every CEO needs to know

7 June 2016

What is the Modern Slavery Act?

In October 2015 the government passed the Modern Slavery Act, the first piece of UK legislation focusing on the prevention and prosecution of modern slavery as well as the protection of its victims. You might think that slavery is a problem of the past, but according to the International Labour Organisation, there are a staggering 21 million people around the world today trapped in some form of forced labour, with 13,000 slaves working in the UK alone.

In fact, the UN says that modern slavery and trafficking is now the second-largest criminal industry in the world. That’s why the Modern Slavery Act has been introduced, to eliminate slavery in all British business and their supply chains and to ensure that slavery is not taking place in the UK.

Who is required to comply?

Any business with a global turnover of more than £36m that supplies goods or services in the UK has to comply with the new Act by producing and publishing an annual slavery and trafficking statement in a prominent place on its website every year. And the Home Office aren’t messing around: if a business fails to produce the statement, they could find themselves on the receiving end of a high court injunction forcing them to comply, as well as a possible unlimited fine. Not only that, but businesses should also ensure that their statements continue to evolve year on year and show progress in how they are continuing to police their supply chains.

Modern Slavery Act

So what do you need to do?

To put it simply, if your organisation has a turnover of £36m or more, then you need to make sure you are complying to the new Act by completing a slavery and human trafficking statement and displaying it somewhere prominent on your website. The statement should either explain what steps your business has taken throughout the year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of your business and supply chain, or alternatively if you have taken no such steps, you need to clearly state so. As far as what information to include, these statements should contain information about the company’s structure and supply chain, its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking and it’s due diligence processes in relation to potential slavery and human trafficking. The statement should also identify parts of the business where there is a risk of slavery and any steps that are being taken to assess and manage that risk, as well as the training about slavery and human trafficking available to staff. For a detailed breakdown of what your statement should include, have a look at the government guide.

The benefits for your business

Although creating and publishing your statement might seem time consuming, there are actually a number of benefits involved in doing so. Firstly, complying with the Act can help to protect and enhance your company’s reputation and brand, as well as growing your customer base as consumers continue to seek out businesses with higher ethical standards. Not only that, but the Modern Slavery Act can also help to boost investor confidence as well as improving staff retention and loyalty based on values and mutual respect. And of course, it’s also another way to develop more responsive and innovative supply chains, so you can ensure you are getting the very best from your suppliers at all times.

If you’d like to find out more about the new Modern Slavery Act, from how it can affect your business and how you can make sure you’re fully prepared whilst at the same time ensuring your supply chain continues to work hard for you, download our guide to successful agency supply chain mangement.

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