Following a review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) and the Home Office ‘Transparency in Supply Chains Consultation’ that closed in September 2019, the UK government is proposing a tightening of the reporting requirements placed on companies and public sector organisations under the MSA.
The changes proposed by the government in response to the consultations would extend the number of organisations subject to MSA reporting obligations; introduce binding rules on the content, timing, and publication of modern slavery statements; and potentially introduce a single enforcement body to oversee MSA compliance. However, the review stops short of recommending financial or civil penalties for organisations that fail to comply with MSA requirements.
Extension of the duty to report
The proposals would extend the duty to prepare a modern slavery statement to public bodies with annual budgets in excess of £36 million, as well as companies with annual turnover in excess of this amount.
Contents, timing, and publication of modern slavery statements
Current Home Office guidance ‘recommends’ that organisations include the following areas in a modern slavery statement for the financial year:
- organisational structure and supply chains;
- policies on modern slavery and human trafficking;
- due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
- risk assessment and management in relation to modern slavery;
- actions taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in their businesses or supply chains, measured against performance indicators, where possible; and
- details of staff training undertaken on slavery and human trafficking risks.
The proposed reforms would make it mandatory for organisations to cover each of the above reporting areas comprehensively in their modern slavery statements. Reporting entities would also be legally required to disclose any of the areas listed above where they have failed to take any action and ‘encouraged’ to give reasons for such failures.
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