Section 54 of The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires any business in the UK with a turnover of £36million or above to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year commencing with periods ending from 31 March 2016 onwards.
To whom does The Modern Slavery Act 2015 apply?
The act applies to bodies corporate, partnerships and group companies, that carry on business in the UK, supply goods and services and have an annual turnover (being turnover from goods and services less trade discounts, VAT and other taxes based on turnover) of £36million or more.
It is recommended that once a business has produced a statement for one year that it should continue to be maintained and updated in future years even when turnover falls below the £36million limit.
What should the statement include?
The legislation does not state the exact content required within the transparency statement. Instead it states that the statement must set out the steps that the business has taken in order to ensure that modern slavery is not present within its own organisation or its supply chains. The statement should also include relevant publications, documents and policies of the organisation with regard to slavery and human trafficking. This may be done by way of a link rather than inclusion of the full policies and documents.
A further requirement is that the statement is easy to read. It is therefore important that the statement is written in plain English and is succinct.
Even where there have not been any steps taken in order to ensure that modern slavery is prevented within the business and its supply chains, a statement to this affect must be provided.
When should the statement be produced?
The statement should be produced annually, to cover the full financial year, for each reporting period ending on or after 31 March 2016 and should be made available as soon as practicably possible after the end of the reporting period. This is deemed to mean within 6 months of the end of the reporting period.
How should I start to construct my organisation’s statement?
The following can be used as a suggested template of headings to be included within the Transparency Statement:
- Structure and supply chains
- Policies on slavery and human trafficking
- Due diligence process for slavery and human trafficking in own business
- Due diligence process for slavery and human trafficking in supply chains
- Risk assessment of business and supply chain and management plan
- Basis for measuring effectiveness of ensuring prevention of slavery and human trafficking
- Training for staff in relation to slavery and human trafficking
How should the statement be approved?
The statement is required to be approved and signed by an appropriate senior person within the business, this will be a director for a company, a designated member for an LLP and a general partner for a Limited Partnership.
Where should the statement be published?
The slavery and human trafficking statement must be published on the organisations website and a prominent link provided on the homepage. Where the organisation does not have a website the statement must be provided to a requestor within 30 days of receipt of a request.
What are the consequences of non-compliance with The Modern Slavery Act 2015?
Where a business fails to comply with the statutory provisions of the act the Secretary of State may seek an injunction through the High Court which will require the organisation to comply. If the business does not become compliant with the rules of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 then this will result in an unlimited fine.
Is there an available example of a Transparency Statement?
The following is an example statement provided within the government guidance: Transparency in Supply Chains etc. A practical guide.
ITP (the International Tourism Partnership), part of Business in the Community, is a non-profit member organisation which brings the hotel sector together to collaborate on social and environmental issues. Since 2010, the organisation has run a human trafficking working group to raise awareness, share best practice and develop practical solutions to tackle the risk of human trafficking and modern day slavery in the hotel industry. Children and adults may be trafficked via hotels for sexual exploitation and the volume of lower-skilled jobs in the industry can provide an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals and agencies to put people into forced or bonded labour. ITP also provides an interface for dialogue with specialist organisations working in this area. Outputs to date include a Position Statement, Know How Guide and Guidelines for Checking Recruitment Agencies. Fran Hughes, ITP Director, says; “Collaboration on this issue has accelerated learning and action on this key issue and helped the hotel industry work together to develop resources and responses. I would urge other sectors to come together to see how they may work together and with their stakeholders to advance activity to address trafficking and slavery risk.” To access ITP’s resources, see: http://tourismpartnership.org/human-trafficking/
What action should I take now?
It would also be advisable to start to review the business and its supply chains in order to identify any areas of risk with regard to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and to consider the content of the suggested statement headings provided above.