Is your business doing its bit to prevent the modern scourge of human trafficking and exploitation from entering your company and supply chain? If you don’t know, trust us, it will pay to check and act now on the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
It’s been two years since the ground-breaking Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force. The Act outlines the steps businesses, with an annual turnover of £36 million or more, should take to comply. Failure to do what’s required, every year, will lead to a possible injunction, or imprisonment of directors, and have a devastating impact on your reputation, with the press eager to ‘out’ the non-compliant. And you’re responsible for making sure your supply chain is ‘clean’.
The risk of non compliance with The Modern Slavery Act 2015
Let’s look first to Primark, which was met with public outcry in recent years after being exposed for using cheap labour in supply chains, and failing to provide safe working conditions for employees.
Nike was also long-shamed in public for its labour practices, which damaged the company’s reputation and hurt sales. 2013’s factory collapse at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh was another reminder of the horrors of modern slavery.
Today the likes of Nike and Primark have turned their reputations around – but it’s taken a lot of positive action and time to change public opinion.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 has clout. It’s led to criminal prosecutions in the UK. In January, two brothers who trafficked 18 people from Poland to the UK were jailed for six years for recruiting vulnerable men to work at the Sports Direct warehouse in Derbyshire.
In 2015, 12 people were prosecuted under the Act, and 105 defendants were prosecuted for slavery and trafficking offences in 2015 under previous legislation, continuing an upward trend, according to the Ministry of Justice Criminal Justice Statistics 2015. Data for 2016 prosecutions under the Act is due to be published this month (May 2017).
Modern slavery on the rise
It’s a grim reality that modern slavery is happening across the UK. It’s an appalling crime and can affect men, women and children – British or foreign citizens. It impacts across every level of society and, worryingly, cases of modern slavery are on the rise in Britain. In 2016, 3,805 victims of modern slavery were rescued in the UK – a 17% increase on 2015. But these numbers don’t truly reflect the true level of slavery. Last month the Work and Pensions Committee published a report estimating between 10,000 and 13,000 people are held in slave conditions.
The Act aims to prevent all forms of labour exploitation and encourage transparency within corporations in steps taken to ensure their business and all supply chains – in the UK and internationally – are slavery free.
What you need to do
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 applies to businesses (public and private companies and partnerships) with a global turnover of over £36 million that conduct a business or part of a business in the UK.
Businesses need to:
- Publish a statement each financial year that either explains: the steps it’s taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not happening either within the business or in its supply chain; or explain that the business has taken no such steps.
- Publish the statement on the business’ website (with a prominent link on the home page).
- Ensure that the statement is approved by the board of directors and signed by a director (or approved by the members and signed by a member in the case of a limited liability partnership).
While the Government provides guidance on the contents of the statement, there is no prescribed form. It’s up to businesses to determine what they include.
Igniyte can help you
As well as being law, it’s the right thing to do to ensure your business complies with the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Not only will it protect your online reputation, but it will also show employees, customers, supply chain and wider public that you are part of the fight against modern slavery.
Just recently the Co-op announced a ground-breaking scheme to help integrate modern slavery victims back into communities. It’s going above and beyond compliance and baring its social conscience. The Co-op has pledged to provide jobs for known victims and raise awareness of modern slavery amongst its 4 million members.
As a leading online reputation management consultancy, Igniyte helps businesses to improve and manage their online reputations, and avoid risk. If your business isn’t complying with the Act, you’re at risk.
We can audit your supply chain’s online reputations, and provide ongoing online reputation monitoring and reporting of suppliers for any potential risks. Igniyte can also prepare a risk assessment to identify potential issues, with practical advice and actions. Igniyte can also draft the statement for your website – the government advises companies enlist the help of PR/reputation specialists to avoid press scrutiny. Find out more here