16th October 2015

14 things you need to know about the Modern Slavery Act


It’s easy to assume that the issues of modern slavery don’t affect us directly, but ask yourself whether you have vast knowledge of your company’s supply chain. And when you walk past your local nail bar, do you ever wonder who is actually carrying out that manicure? Are ethical business practices in operation? Or could it possibly be a case of modern slavery? Either way, the loopholes are tightening around this monstrous trade.

Have you got your Act together? – The issues surrounding the Modern Slavery Act are vast and complex, find out more about the Act and how we can help your organisation in our latest infographic: http://bit.ly/1TGMigW?

When Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Modern Slavery Act earlier this year, she described the existence of modern slavery in today’s society as “an affront to the dignity and humanity of every one of us.”

Calling the Act “an historic milestone”, she said it would send the strongest possible message to criminals involved in “this vile trade” that they would be arrested, prosecuted and locked up. It is definitely time to let victims know they are not alone and that help is at hand.

Modern slavery covers a wide range of issues from enslavement of children in cannabis factories and nail bars across the UK to brick factories in India. The slavery not only hits individuals hard but in addition, it affects health, economic growth, women’s empowerment and lifetime proposals for youth.

With the sad fact that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, human trafficking is estimated to be one of the highest earning criminal industries in the world (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking).

So here are 14 things you need to know to get savvy with the Modern Slavery Act:

1. It was introduced to Parliament on 10 June 2014 and passed into law on 26 March 2015.

2. The Act has increased the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life.

3. It requires businesses in the UK to be transparent about what they are doing to tackle modern slavery, not just within their own operations, but in their supply chains as well.

4. Courts now possess the powers to impose orders to restrict the activities of suspected traffickers.

5. To comply with the Act, commercial organisations need to carry out a variety of procedures including mapping the company’s operations and supply chain and make training on slavery and human trafficking available to staff.

6. Businesses now need to understand the countries in which they operate as some countries pose a higher risk in relation to slavery incidents than others.

7. The Act requires businesses with a turnover of £36million or more to publish an annual ‘transparency in supply chains’ report. It requires commercial organisations to produce an annual report setting out the steps they have taken to ensure there is no modern slavery or trafficking within their businesses or supply chains.

8. It is likely that organisations earning in excess of £36million will have to be compliant in the next 18 months or so. This measure is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and will cover all large businesses who do business in the UK and have supply chains elsewhere in the world, for example South East Asia.

9. So, what should your organisation’s slavery and human trafficking statement look like? If your organisation is covered by the Act, your statement will either be highlighting the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains; and in any of its own businesses; or a statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.

10. While the demand for supply chain transparency will not start until October 2015, some organisations may wish to start to consider the level of reporting and disclosure they would intend to make and ensure that mechanisms are already in place.

11. The Act also establishes the UK’s first ever Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland OBE, who will drive forward the law enforcement response and hold them to account at all levels, ensuring that the perpetrators are caught and prosecuted and that the victims are swiftly identified.

12. The Act will strengthen law enforcement powers at sea to close loopholes which can prevent the police and Border Force being able to act on board vessels at sea.

13. Courts will also possess new powers to order perpetrators of slavery and trafficking to pay Reparation Orders to their victims.

14. The Act will introduce protections for victims of abuse on an overseas domestic workers visa.

So there we are, to bring you fully up to date with the Act, just when you thought you didn’t know much about modern slavery. It could be happening right on your doorstep and you wouldn’t have known about it.

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