Slaving away

21 / 04 / 2016

What does the Modern Slavery Act do?

  • It introduces a requirement for certain businesses to ensure there is no slavery or human trafficking in their own business and their supply chains.
  • For those businesses whose turnover is over a certain threshold, they must publish an annual statement confirming steps taken (if any) to ensure slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in their business or in their supply chain.
  • If a business fails to produce a statement, the Secretary of State may seek an injunction requiring the organisation to comply. Failure to comply with the injunction is punishable by an unlimited fine.

Who does the Act apply to?

  •  A body corporate or a partnership:
    • who carries on business in the UK (or part of a business in the UK);
    • supplies goods and services; and
    • has an annual turnover of more than £36 million.
  • It applies to financial years ending on or after 30 March 2016.

How will the Act affect these businesses?

  • The effects on organisations who have large supply chains (for example, a developer on a major construction project) will be far reaching.
  • Businesses need to consider how to prepare their statement in order to meet the requirements of the Act.
  • The Government expects organisations to build on their statements each year and for those statements to evolve and improve over time.
  • Businesses need to consider what steps to take in early negotiations and/ or tendering processes and whether to include wording in commercial agreements that have a connection with a supply chain which prohibit the use of forced or trafficked labour.

If you require any support or advice on the duties created by the Modern Slavery Act, please get in touch with your usual Wedlake Bell contact or Sarah Elliott, Partner in Construction, who can be contacted on telephone +44 (0)20 7395 3192 or by email at: selliott@wedlakebell.com.