Could potential changes to Modern Slavery Legislation affect Public Bodies?

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21 October, 2020

The government has set out proposed changes to the requirements for transparency in supply chains under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

At present, certain commercial organisations must publish an annual statement setting out the steps they take to prevent modern slavery in their business and supply chains. The requirement is set out in Section 54 (Transparency in Supply Chains) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. As organisations are responsible for determining whether the legislation applies to them, it is imperative that they understand the requirements and the possible changes that could be implemented by the government.

A commercial organisation is required to publish an annual statement if it is a 'body corporate' or a partnership supplying goods and services in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more.

Currently there is no such requirement for public sector bodies to produce an annual statement although the government have considered extending this to public sector bodies. The suggested move came as part of the government's response to the July 2019 Consultation Paper reviewing the current legislative provisions which determined that the obligation should be extended to public bodies. The Consultation also determined that the provisions need stronger enforcement and enhanced reporting requirements. If the proposed reporting changes were implemented organisations would be required to report on internal policies and due diligence in place regarding slavery and human trafficking, steps taken by the organisation to mitigate risk, indicators of effectiveness of these processes, and training and resources available to staff amongst other factors. The creation of a new enforcement body and the potential introduction of civil penalties for non-compliance are anticipated.

We advise that any organisation over the budget threshold who could potentially be affected keep up to date with the implementation of any changes, and begin considering the steps it may need to take should the government legislate as anticipated. Our specialist lawyers at Forbes can offer advice and support to any organisation currently required to comply with modern slavery reporting provisions, or those potentially affected by the proposed legislative changes.

For more information contact Ella Dudley in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 0333 207 1160. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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