Modern Slavery Act 2015: New Requirements for all Businesses
Modern Slavery Act 2015: Requirement for Annual Statements on Slavery and Human Trafficking in Businesses and their Supply Chains –
New rules in the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 require organisations to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement for financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016. This Insight looks at what the new rules are, who they apply to and the steps organisations will need to take in order to comply.
Please see full alert below for more information.
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• relevant policies (e.g. process for policy development, policies that concern business relationships,
recruitment policy, procurement policy, employee code of conduct, staff training policies);
• relevant due diligence processes (e.g. actions taken to understand the operating context, monitoring,
evaluation measures, related due diligence and compliance provisions in supply contracts);
• risk assessment (e.g. inclusion in the organisation’s wider approach to risk assessment and management,
adoption of policies and procedures that are proportionate to the organisation’s size, structure, location of
activities and supply chains and nature or business);
• effectiveness in ensuring slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in their business or supply
chains (e.g. performance indicators); and
• related training.
There may be overlap with the information in a quoted company’s strategic report which sets out information
on social, community and human rights issues to the extent required to understand the development,
performance or position of the company’s business.
The statement requires board approval and must be signed by a director (or equivalent for partnerships).
Is an anti-slavery policy now mandatory?
Although the Act codifies certain slavery and related offences already existing in common law, it does not
necessarily require organisations to have an anti-slavery policy. However, organisations should assess
whether their policies and procedures are proportionate to their identified business and supply chains risk, the
severity of that risk and the level of influence the organisation may have against that risk. In organisations with
identified risks, policies (whether stand-alone or incorporated with other compliance policies) and practices
supported by senior management and backed-up with communication and training, are recommended.
Without such policies in place it will be hard to give a meaningful statement about steps the organisation has
taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place.
What are the consequences of non-compliance?
The Secretary of State can seek an injunction to compel an organisation to issue the statement but there is no
fine for failing to comply (or statutory offence for approving a false or misleading statement) or for failing to
take steps to prevent slavery or human trafficking. The government expects pressure from the public,
shareholders and competitors to get organisations to make meaningful statements and improve their conduct.
Organisations have at least 11 months from now before statements need to be published, but should plan in
advance what they would like the substantive content of that statement to be, and any changes to policies and
procedure required to enable the board to approve such a statement. Our team can help you assess the
application of the rules to your organisation, implement policies and procedures, as well as provide guidance
on the contents of the statement. If you would like further information, please get in touch with your usual
White & Case contact or with either of the authors.
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This publication is prepared for the general information of our clients and other interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be,
comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.
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