From October 2016, businesses with a turnover of over £36 million will be expected to report on what they are doing to stamp out modern slavery, under the Modern Slavery Act.
Modern slavery is defined as ‘slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour,’ as well as ‘human trafficking’. It is estimated that there around 13,000 workers subject to modern slavery in the UK alone (Home Office, 2014). The principal purpose of the Act is to consolidate existing legislation relating to slavery, including human trafficking, forced labour and other forms of exploitation, into a single statute to tackle modern slavery and enhance protection for victims.
Commercial organisations with a turnover of over £36 million will be required to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement each year on their website, setting out the steps that they have taken to ensure there is no slavery and human trafficking in any part of their own business or their supply chains.
Franchises will be excluded from the Act, unless the franchisee is itself over the turnover threshold of £36 million where it would report on its own responsibility, not as part of the franchisor. Franchisees generally have their own commercial arrangements which they are not obliged to report to their franchisors.
There are tough penalties proposed for those who take no action. This includes a grey area regarding legal liability where it states that businesses ‘ought to have known’ about an incidence.
The BHA is supporting members to ensure they maintain best practice through measures such as checking their supply chain and procedures, engaging staff and fully reporting on activities.
The BHA will continue to provide members with updates and further guidance on what published reports might include following future meetings with the Home Office. For more information, please click here or contact Lucy Aldrich-Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org