Modern Slavery Act – What is it?

Introduced in March 2015 the Modern Slavery Act is an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament. It is designed to tackle criminals involved in human trafficking and slavery by ensuring they are prosecuted for their exploitation of vulnerable people. The Act includes 2 offences: one for human trafficking and one for forced or compulsory labour, slavery or servitude. It provides support and protection for victims affected by the actions of these criminals.

Prior to the Act, the Global Slavery Index estimated there were 8,300 people caught up in modern slavery in the UK. More recently, this estimate has risen to tens of thousands according to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and affects every large town and city in the country. Worldwide, the estimate is over 45 million.

According to the NCA, the key sectors for slavery now include food processing, fishing, agriculture, construction, domestic and care workers and car washes.

 

Does it affect my organisation?

Under Section 54 of the Act, large commercial organisations in the UK, with an annual turnover of at least £36 million, are required to issue a statement each financial year in relation to slavery and human trafficking that either, details the steps it has taken to ensure that no slavery and human trafficking has taken place in any of its supply chains or any part of its business during that year, or states that it has taken no such steps.  Section 54 came into force on 29 October 2015 and applies to financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016.

 

What to include in the statement

Section 54 of the Act states that an organisation’s statement may include information relating to:-

  • its structure, business and supply chains;
  • its policies on slavery and human trafficking;
  • its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
  • the parts of its business and supply chains where there may be a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps that it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains; and
  • the training available to its employees about slavery and human trafficking.

The statement must be issued by the highest level within an organisation.