Slavery and human trafficking statements

Some organisations will have to produce and publish a slavery and human trafficking statement as early as September for the 2015/16 financial year.Modern-Slavery-Act-2015

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015), requires certain firms with a financial year end from 31 March 2016 to produce and publish a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation. Governmental guidance is clear that organisations should seek to publish this statement no later than six months after year end. Therefore a firm with a financial year end of 31 March 2016 is effectively required to have published a statement by 30 September 2016.

Who is required to comply?

The MSA 2015 requires that any commercial organisation in any sector, which supplies goods or services, and carries on a business or part of a business in the UK, and is above a specified total turnover, must produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation. Regulations (SI 2015/1833) have set the total turnover threshold at £36m.

What should the statement include?

The statement must set out what steps they have taken during the financial year to ensure that modern slavery is not occurring in their supply chains or any part of it own organisation. An organisation is not required to guarantee that the entire supply chain is slavery free. Rather, an organisation must set out the steps it has taken is relation to any part of the supply chain. For the purposes of this requirement, 'supply chain' has its everyday meaning.

The statement must be approved and signed by a director, member or partner of the organisation.

Where should the statement be published?

The MSA 2015 requires each organisation to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement on their website and include a link in a prominent place on its homepage. For organisations with no website, a copy of the statement must be provided to anyone who requests one in writing. The copy must be provided to the requestor within 30 days of the receipt of the request, where a statement has been produced and is available.

When should the statement be published?

The governmental guidance states that organisations should seek to publish their statement as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of their financial year, ideally no later than six months of the organisation's financial year end. Section 6 of the governmental guidance sets out a number of illustrations to assist firms understand their timeline for compliance. Organisations may wish to publish these statements at the same time as they publish other annual accounts.

What happens if a business fails to comply?

If a business fails to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for a particular financial year the Secretary of State may seek an injunction through the High Court (or, in Scotland civil proceedings for specific performance of a statutory duty under section 45 of the Court of Session Act 1988) requiring the organisation to comply. If the organisation fails to comply with the injunction, they will be in contempt of a court order, which is punishable by an unlimited fine.

Further information on the provisions and how to create and publish a statement can be found in the governmental guidance.

By Ed Davies, Solicitor, Corporate

 

 

Relevant Articles
Area of Interest