The Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into effect this week and it outlines the steps businesses with an annual turnover of £36 million or more should take to comply.
What is the Modern Slavery Act 2015?
Essentially, the Act aims to prevent all forms of labour exploitation and encourage transparency within corporations in what steps they are taking to ensure their business and all supply chains – in the UK and internationally – are slavery free.
The legislation follows a few recent high-profile cases where companies have been found to be using other companies in their supply chain which use slave labour.
From October 2015, organisations with an annual global turnover of £36 million or more which carry business in the UK, will have to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement each financial year to outline the steps they’ve taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free and publish this on their website.
The risk of not complying
As well as facing a possible injunction if they don’t publish a statement; companies also run a huge risk to their reputation if they fail to comply.
The press will be eager to pick up on those companies which are not being proactive in ensuring their supply chains are slavery free, which will undoubtedly paint the company in a bad light and impact their reputation.
If companies do comply and publish a statement – they have to be careful how they word it, as any ambiguity or wrongful wording could again get picked up by the press.
What should companies do now?
Under the legislation, here’s what companies need to do to comply:
- Prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement, clearly outlining the steps your company is taking to ensure your business and supply chains – in the UK and internationally – are slavery free, each financial year.
- Publish this statement on your company website – and a link to the statement must appear in a prominent place on the website’s homepage.
- The statement must be approved by the board of directors, and must be signed by a director.
The Act doesn’t actually oblige companies to take the steps to ensure that modern slavery isn’t taking place in their organisation, but if no steps have been taken, companies are running the risk of this being ‘outed’ by the press.
The auditing and monitoring of a company’s supply chain will vary depending on the size of the company and the industry they’re in, but what is clear, is that companies will need to review their compliance and risk procedures and documents to avoid legal and reputational risks.
How can we help?
- We can audit an organisation’s supplier’s online reputations – essentially a risk assessment, which will identify potential reputational issues.
- We can help you draft the statement to be published on your website – it’s been advised by the government that companies should enlist the help of PR specialists to put this together, as any wrong wording etc. can put you under scrutiny.
- Ongoing online reputation monitoring of suppliers; we can monitor for any potential risks and advise when action needs to be taken and put together a crisis management strategy should an issue arise, to limit the damage to your reputation.
Get in touch with us if you think the legislation might affect you and if you’d like advice on what steps to take to comply and protect your reputation.