Modern slavery, in its various forms, affects around 21 million people worldwide and is a multi-billion pound industry. It is surprising that slavery even exists in the 21st century, but it does. In 2015, then-Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Modern Slavery Act to try to prevent UK businesses from becoming part of the problem.

What is modern slavery?

This a broad term that covers forced labour, slavery, servitude and human trafficking. Migrant workers are typically most affected by modern slavery. If they have taken out a loan to pay an organisation to take them to the UK and find them work, that organisation may force them to work long and demanding hours until the loan has been repaid.

What do companies need to do to guard against modern slavery?

For each financial year, companies with a UK presence  and with a turnover or group turnover of £36 million or more must produce a slavery and human trafficking statement to show what they are doing to address the issue throughout the entirety of their supply chain. All companies with a financial year ending on 31st March 2016 or subsquently are required to produce this report within six months, with this process then continuing each year. The statement needs to cover all areas of the business, even foreign subsidiaries.

The guidance for these reports suggests that there is a preference for them to be simple and succinct. However, companies are required to include links to policies and documents and information on the company structure, its supply chain and where steps have been taken to reduce modern slavery in high-risk areas. The document should also include details of any training given to staff and how the methods implemented by the company measure against its Key Performance Indicators.

Preparation is so important when compiling this document, and it could take some time. Not only does a company need to seek assurances from its suppliers, but it should also open talks with them concerning the working methods of their sub-suppliers. Once all sections of the report have been compiled, it will need to be signed to indicate that it is accurate and a link to it will need to be placed in a prominent position on the company’s website.

Ensuring that you have all the details required to satisfy this Act can seem like a daunting process, especially if your company is inexperienced with dealing with such issues. Enlisting the expert services of London Registrars can help you with all aspects of company compliance and take away the stress of dealing with the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act.

November, 2016