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Modern Slavery Act 2015

Overview

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is a significant piece of legislation enacted by the United Kingdom Parliament to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. The Act represents a comprehensive response to the global challenge of modern slavery. Its primary objectives are to prevent and combat modern slavery and human trafficking, protect victims, and promote transparency in supply chains. The Act encompasses both criminal law and corporate transparency measures.

The Act introduces a transparency requirement for certain businesses operating in the UK, with an annual turnover above a specified threshold (£36 million or more). These businesses are required to publish an annual statement outlining the actions they have taken to address the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and operations. The statement should describe the due diligence processes, policies, and training initiatives implemented by the business to mitigate the risk of modern slavery.

The Act also encourages businesses to conduct robust due diligence on their supply chains to identify and address the risks of modern slavery. As such, businesses are expected to map their supply chains, assess potential risks, engage with suppliers, and take appropriate action to ensure that modern slavery is not present within their supply chains.

Lastly, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 enhances the legal framework for prosecuting offences related to modern slavery, including slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labor, and human trafficking. It provides law enforcement agencies with increased powers to investigate, prosecute, and convict individuals and organisations involved in modern slavery offences.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was passed on the 26th of March 2015.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 applies to the following countries:

  • United Kingdom; 
  • England; 
  • Scotland; 
  • Wales; and 
  • Northern Ireland. 

Does the Modern Slavery Act affect my business?

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 places a spotlight on businesses’ efforts to address modern slavery within their supply chains. Failure to comply with transparency requirements and effectively tackle modern slavery risks can lead to reputational damage and loss of public trust. It also necessitates robust supply chain management and due diligence practices. Businesses must identify, assess, and mitigate modern slavery risks by implementing effective monitoring, auditing, and remediation processes within their supply chains.

Furthermore, the Act encourages collaboration among businesses, industry associations, NGOs, and government bodies to address the systemic challenges of modern slavery. Businesses are encouraged to engage in partnerships and initiatives that promote information sharing, best practices, and collective action to combat modern slavery, and must ensure compliance with the Act’s provisions to avoid legal repercussions and potential criminal liability. Ignorance or neglect of modern slavery risks can lead to regulatory investigations, penalties, and prosecutions.

Do I need the Modern Slavery Act 2015 in my ISO Compliance Register?

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 applies to businesses operating in the UK across various sectors. While the Act does not explicitly target specific types of businesses, you will need the Act in your ISO Compliance Register if your business falls under the following categories:

  • Large Companies and Multinational Corporations: Businesses with an annual turnover above £36 million fall within the scope of the Act’s transparency requirements and are required to publish a Modern Slavery Statement.
  • Businesses with Complex Supply Chains: Companies that have intricate global supply chains and rely on multiple tiers of suppliers are particularly affected by the Modern Slavery Act 2015. These businesses face the challenge of identifying and addressing potential risks of modern slavery throughout their supply chains, often across different countries and regions.
  • High-Risk Industries: Certain industries have been identified as having a higher risk of modern slavery, such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, hospitality, garment and textile production, and domestic work (businesses operating in these industries should pay extra attention to their supply chain practices and implement robust measures to combat modern slavery).
  • Public Sector and Government Contractors: The Modern Slavery Act 2015 extends its requirements to public sector bodies and government contractors, aiming to ensure that taxpayer-funded contracts do not contribute to or tolerate modern slavery practices.

Legislation related to the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Legislation related to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 include:

  • Children and Young Persons Act 1963
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Immigration Act 2016
  • Protection of Children Act 1999
  • The Slavery and Human Trafficking (Definition of Victim) Regulations 2022

More information

Visit the Modern Slavery Act 2015 on the legislation.gov.uk website.

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