SAN DIEGO, Aug. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The UK recently enacted the landmark Modern Slavery Act 2015, which is to take effect in October 2015. This unprecedented law in Europe is aimed at eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking from supply chains. The original bill is now an Act of Parliament and creates two new civil orders to prevent modern slavery, establishes an anti-slavery commissioner and makes provision for the protection of today's slavery victims.
Under this act, companies are required to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement each fiscal year. The statement should outline information about:
- The company's structure, supply chains and business operations
- Its slavery and human trafficking policies
- Its due diligence process handling slavery and human trafficking in both its supply chains and business
- Identified vulnerable parts of its supply chains and steps to manage that vulnerability
- Company staff slavery and human trafficking in-house training
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 applies to partnerships and large companies that have a turnover of a minimum of £36 million. This threshold applies to global turnover, so U.S. based-companies that conduct even a small amount of business in the UK are included. The Act is broader than the Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 and applies not only to manufacturing and retail companies but companies that supply either services or goods.
Moving forward, if a commercial company has a website, its slavery and human trafficking statement must be published on the site. There must be a link to the statement in a prominent place on the company's homepage. Those companies without a website, must provide a copy of its slavery and human trafficking statement upon written request within 30 days of the request.
Take-Aways and Next Steps
Business execs must assess whether or not its entities in the corporate group are affected by the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Many larger U.S. companies that cultivate a small portion of its revenue from the UK will need to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement.
Many businesses that already prepare a disclosure under the California Act will be required to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement. While the two acts are different, they do overlap. Companies should coordinate both disclosures and consider whether or not to combine it into one disclosure. Plus, companies should also give consideration to its process to coordinate and harmonize the compliance processes if different entities in the corporate group must comply with the reporting requirement.
It's important to note that both the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the California Act do not create an obligation to initiate compliance programs or require supply chain due diligence. But with the increasing focus on these issues by socially responsible investors, customers and governments, a significant amount of mid-sized and larger companies are beginning to put anti-human trafficking compliance programs in place.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015
The purpose of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 is to prevent the abuses that typically occur in today's global supply chains, such as forced labor, servitude, slavery and human trafficking. It doesn't really introduce anything new or asking for additional information as set forth in the UN Guiding Principles. Instead, the act is asking for evidence of company policies and procedures to prevent and address slavery and human trafficking issues. According to Prime Minister David Cameron, "The scourge of modern slavery has no place in today's society and I am proud of all that Britain is doing to wipe it out with the Modern Slavery Act 2015. It puts greater accountability on businesses for the condition of their supply chains. In addition, new measures will come into force in the UK to provide greater protection and compensation for victims and to make sure that those responsible face tougher sanctions. But there is still much more to do."
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 protects victims of modern slavery. The courts now have the power to order perpetrators of slavery and trafficking to pay reparation orders to the victims. It also affords protections for victims of abuse on an overseas domestic workers visa. Child advocates are provided to support young victims of trafficking. All around, victims of modern slavery can be support through the criminal justice process. When perpetrators are caught, they are prosecuted, and victims are quickly identified so that they can receive support and help.
With the passing of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the UK is once again leading the battle against the cruel trade of slavery and trafficking in the world. It intends to use this new legislation to its full potential.
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