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Ten Things You Ought To Know About The Modern Slavery Act 2015

Ten Things You Ought To Know About The Modern Slavery Act 2015

A legal “duty of transparency” under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015) came into force in October 2015, with the teeth of the duty set to start biting for organisations with financial years ending 31 March 2016 and onwards. A recent survey of 500 purchasing and supply chain professionals carried out by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply indicates that 20% of qualifying UK procurement professionals are unaware of their obligations under MSA 2015, and only 60% have read the relevant Home Office guidance. The time to start acting is now.

1. What is “modern slavery”?

Modern slavery can involve servitude, slavery, human trafficking or forced/compulsory labour. According to the Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 8,300 people – both UK and foreign nationals – in modern slavery in the UK. High risk areas include construction, agriculture and food preparation, processing and packaging. Cases have also been reported regarding the hospitality sector, nail salons and door-to-door leaflet deliveries. 

2. What do you need to do?

Under Section 54 of MSA 2015, certain organisations must now publicise each year what action they are taking, if any, to combat modern slavery taking place in their own business and also within their supply chains. If your organisation meets the Section 54 MSA 2015 criteria then there are two options: (1) you must set out all steps taken to ensure absence of slavery and human trafficking within any part of your own business and within any supply chains; or (2) set out that no steps have been taken. The extent of Option 1 should be stressed; the hierarchy of businesses involved in your supply chain could well be extensive. 

3. Who needs to do this?

The new duty covers businesses, no matter where incorporated or registered, which carry out any part of their business in the UK, supply goods or services, and have a total turnover (including subsidiaries) of at least £36million. The purpose for profit-making is irrelevant, so charitable or educational organisations are not exempt.

4. What action do you need to take?

The legislation does not force qualifying organisations to actually take any specific action to combat modern slavery; the duty is to publish an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (see point 2 above). Of course, the potential impact on public image of a business openly declaring that they take no action to combat servitude, slavery, human trafficking or forced/compulsory labour is clear. 

5. Approval and publication

Your organisation’s Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement requires formal management approval (company: board of directors and signed by a director; LLP: members’ approval and signed by designated member; partnerships: signed by a partner).

In terms of publication, the Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement must be published on your organisation’s website (with a prominent link to it). If you have no website, a written copy of the Statement must be provided within 30 days to anyone requesting it.

6. Enforcement

While the primary “enforcement” mechanism for compliance with the duty is intended to be pressure from consumer and human rights organisations towards non-compliant businesses, the Secretary of State does have the power to seek to compel performance through the courts. Failure of an organisation to then abide by any such court order could, in theory, result in fines or imprisonment.

7.  Turnover threshold: £36million

The turnover threshold of £36million per annum includes the turnover of parent company and subsidiaries. Consideration should therefore be given to whether individual subsidiary companies within groups fall within the duty to publish a Statement in their own right. Significantly, the intention is for this turnover threshold to be lowered in the course of time, bringing more organisations into the crosshairs. 

8. Statements to be “accurate rather than aspirational”

The Home Office guidance and the legislation itself suggests that your Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement should include accurate information on your organisation’s structure, supply chains and any high risk jurisdictions in which you do business, as well as links to policies, due diligence/risk assessment processes and training of staff.

Given that the aim is to eradicate modern slavery within goods and services supply chains by requiring organisations to adopt a zero-tolerance approach, it pays to know what you don’t know as early as possible. How much oversight does your organisation have of its international supply chains? Is the information from your suppliers accurate and reliable?

9. When is your financial year end?

The Home Office Guidance highlights that organisations are expected to publish their Statements “as soon as reasonably practicable” after the end of each financial year in which they must produce a Statement. The Statement must cover operations for the full year prior to that date. The first qualifying organisations due to publish a Statement will be those with financial years ending 31 March 2016.

10. Burness Paull are here to help

Transparency is King in the 21st Century. Whether it be advising on your legal duties; reviewing your standard third party contract terms, providing training or helping you to draft your Statement, the Burness Paull Health, Safety and Corporate Crime team are ready to assist. 

For more information please read our briefing note on the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and get in touch.

Adam McCabe

Solicitor

SolicitorA legal “duty of transparency” under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015) came into force in October 2015, with the teeth of the duty set to start biting for organisations with financial years ending 31 March 2016 and onwards. A recent survey of 500 purchasing and supply chain professionals carried out by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply indicates that 20% of qualifying UK procurement professionals are unaware of their obligations under MSA 2015, and only 60% have read the relevant Home Office guidance. The time to start acting is now.
1. What is “modern slavery”?
Modern slavery can involve servitude, slavery, human trafficking or forced/compulsory labour. According to the Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 8,300 people – both UK and foreign nationals – in modern slavery in the UK. High risk areas include construction, agriculture and food preparation, processing and packaging. Cases have also been reported regarding the hospitality sector, nail salons and door-to-door leaflet deliveries. 
2. What do you need to do?
Under Section 54 of MSA 2015, certain organisations must now publicise each year what action they are taking, if any, to combat modern slavery taking place in their own business and also within their supply chains. If your organisation meets the Section 54 MSA 2015 criteria then there are two options: (1) you must set out all steps taken to ensure absence of slavery and human trafficking within any part of your own business and within any supply chains; or (2) set out that no steps have been taken. The extent of Option 1 should be stressed; the hierarchy of businesses involved in your supply chain could well be extensive. 
3. Who needs to do this?
The new duty covers businesses, no matter where incorporated or registered, which carry out any part of their business in the UK, supply goods or services, and have a total turnover (including subsidiaries) of at least £36million. The purpose for profit-making is irrelevant, so charitable or educational organisations are not exempt.
4. What action do you need to take?
The legislation does not force qualifying organisations to actually take any specific action to combat modern slavery; the duty is to publish an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (see point 2 above). Of course, the potential impact on public image of a business openly declaring that they take no action to combat servitude, slavery, human trafficking or forced/compulsory labour is clear. 
5. Approval and publication
Your organisation’s Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement requires formal management approval (company: board of directors and signed by a director; LLP: members’ approval and signed by designated member; partnerships: signed by a partner). 
In terms of publication, the Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement must be published on your organisation’s website (with a prominent link to it). If you have no website, a written copy of the Statement must be provided within 30 days to anyone requesting it.
6. Enforcement
While the primary “enforcement” mechanism for compliance with the duty is intended to be pressure from consumer and human rights organisations towards non-compliant businesses, the Secretary of State does have the power to seek to compel performance through the courts. Failure of an organisation to then abide by any such court order could, in theory, result in fines or imprisonment.
7.  Turnover threshold: £36million
The turnover threshold of £36million per annum includes the turnover of parent company and subsidiaries. Consideration should therefore be given to whether individual subsidiary companies within groups fall within the duty to publish a Statement in their own right. Significantly, the intention is for this turnover threshold to be lowered in the course of time, bringing more organisations into the crosshairs. 
8. Statements to be “accurate rather than aspirational”
The Home Office guidance and the legislation itself suggests that your Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement should include accurate information on your organisation’s structure, supply chains and any high risk jurisdictions in which you do business, as well as links to policies, due diligence/risk assessment processes and training of staff.  
Given that the aim is to eradicate modern slavery within goods and services supply chains by requiring organisations to adopt a zero-tolerance approach, it pays to know what you don’t know as early as possible. How much oversight does your organisation have of its international supply chains? Is the information from your suppliers accurate and reliable?
9. When is your financial year end?
The Home Office Guidance highlights that organisations are expected to publish their Statements “as soon as reasonably practicable” after the end of each financial year in which they must produce a Statement. The Statement must cover operations for the full year prior to that date. The first qualifying organisations due to publish a Statement will be those with financial years ending 31 March 2016.
10. Burness Paull are here to help
Transparency is King in the 21st Century. Whether it be advising on your legal duties;
reviewing your standard third party contract terms, providing training or helping you to draft your Statement, the Burness Paull Health, Safety and Corporate Crime team are ready to assist. 
Adam McCabe
Solicitor

 

A legal “duty of transparency” under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015) came into force in October 2015, with the teeth of the duty set to start biting for organisations with financial years ending 31 March 2016 and onwards. A recent survey of 500 purchasing and supply chain professionals carried out by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply indicates that 20% of qualifying UK procurement professionals are unaware of their obligations under MSA 2015, and only 60% have read the relevant Home Office guidance. The time to start acting is now.

 

  1. What is “modern slavery”?
Modern slavery can involve servitude, slavery, human trafficking or forced/compulsory labour. According to the Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 8,300 people – both UK and foreign nationals – in modern slavery in the UK. High risk areas include construction, agriculture and food preparation, processing and packaging. Cases have also been reported regarding the hospitality sector, nail salons and door-to-door leaflet deliveries. 
2. What do you need to do?
Under Section 54 of MSA 2015, certain organisations must now publicise each year what action they are taking, if any, to combat modern slavery taking place in their own business and also within their supply chains. If your organisation meets the Section 54 MSA 2015 criteria then there are two options: (1) you must set out all steps taken to ensure absence of slavery and human trafficking within any part of your own business and within any supply chains; or (2) set out that no steps have been taken. The extent of Option 1 should be stressed; the hierarchy of businesses involved in your supply chain could well be extensive. 
3. Who needs to do this?
The new duty covers businesses, no matter where incorporated or registered, which carry out any part of their business in the UK, supply goods or services, and have a total turnover (including subsidiaries) of at least £36million. The purpose for profit-making is irrelevant, so charitable or educational organisations are not exempt.
4. What action do you need to take?
The legislation does not force qualifying organisations to actually take any specific action to combat modern slavery; the duty is to publish an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (see point 2 above). Of course, the potential impact on public image of a business openly declaring that they take no action to combat servitude, slavery, human trafficking or forced/compulsory labour is clear. 
5. Approval and publication
Your organisation’s Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement requires formal management approval (company: board of directors and signed by a director; LLP: members’ approval and signed by designated member; partnerships: signed by a partner). 
In terms of publication, the Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement must be published on your organisation’s website (with a prominent link to it). If you have no website, a written copy of the Statement must be provided within 30 days to anyone requesting it.
6. Enforcement
While the primary “enforcement” mechanism for compliance with the duty is intended to be pressure from consumer and human rights organisations towards non-compliant businesses, the Secretary of State does have the power to seek to compel performance through the courts. Failure of an organisation to then abide by any such court order could, in theory, result in fines or imprisonment.
7.  Turnover threshold: £36million
The turnover threshold of £36million per annum includes the turnover of parent company and subsidiaries. Consideration should therefore be given to whether individual subsidiary companies within groups fall within the duty to publish a Statement in their own right. Significantly, the intention is for this turnover threshold to be lowered in the course of time, bringing more organisations into the crosshairs. 
8. Statements to be “accurate rather than aspirational”
The Home Office guidance and the legislation itself suggests that your Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement should include accurate information on your organisation’s structure, supply chains and any high risk jurisdictions in which you do business, as well as links to policies, due diligence/risk assessment processes and training of staff.  
Given that the aim is to eradicate modern slavery within goods and services supply chains by requiring organisations to adopt a zero-tolerance approach, it pays to know what you don’t know as early as possible. How much oversight does your organisation have of its international supply chains? Is the information from your suppliers accurate and reliable?
9. When is your financial year end?
The Home Office Guidance highlights that organisations are expected to publish their Statements “as soon as reasonably practicable” after the end of each financial year in which they must produce a Statement. The Statement must cover operations for the full year prior to that date. The first qualifying organisations due to publish a Statement will be those with financial years ending 31 March 2016.
10. Burness Paull are here to help
Transparency is King in the 21st Century. Whether it be advising on your legal duties;
reviewing your standard third party contract terms, providing training or helping you to draft your Statement, the Burness Paull Health, Safety and Corporate Crime team are ready to assist. 

 

Adam McCabe

Solicitor

LChalmers