UK MODERN SLAVERY ACT

The UK Modern Slavery Act was passed in 2015 and is one of the most rigorous pieces of legislation fighting modern slavery today. The act requires businesses to disclose what they are doing to fight modern slavery, servitude, forced/compulsory labor, and human trafficking.

 

What is modern slavery?

While it often goes unnoticed, modern slavery is very prevalent today. Anti-Slavery International reports that an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery. Modern slavery takes different forms, such as forced labor, debt bondage, human trafficking, forced marriage, and more. Generally, modern slavery occurs when a person is stripped of their freedom and is being controlled or exploited by another.

 

How does the act define modern slavery?

The act lists the following as offenses (not an exhaustive list):

Holding another person in slavery or servitude

Forcing another person to perform compulsory labor

Human trafficking, including being involved with or arranging the travel of another person while knowing that the person will be exploited (regardless of whether or not the person consents to the travels)

Sexual exploitation

Removal of organs

Securing services by force/threats/deception

Securing services from children/vulnerable persons

Aiding, abetting, procuring, or counseling any of the above offenses

 

What does the act want my business to do about modern slavery?

The act requires companies that match certain criteria to produce and make available a transparency statement detailing what they are doing to combat modern slavery within their business and supply chain.

 

Does my business meet the criteria and therefore have to comply with the act?

Your business must comply with the act if:

Your global revenues meet or exceed €36 million and

You conduct business in the UK either independently or through a subsidiary, branch, or other connection

Transparency statements that comply with the act can be found on the Modern Slavery Registry.

 

How do I know if modern slavery is a problem in my supply chain?

Modern slavery is often hard to identify and well hidden. Workplace Options knows the right programs to employ, questions to ask, and ways to respond in order to help you discover issues.

Our Labor Solutions team can distribute worker surveys designed to extract needed information. With our experience, we know asking workers “Are you enslaved?” will not produce accurate results. We’ll ask targeted questions like, “Does your employer hold your passport?” or “Did you have to pay to get your job?” that will produce the answers you need to take action. With questions like these, we can identify problems that workers may not have initially recognized and get to the root of supply chain issues quickly.

 

What can I do to prevent modern slavery in my supply chain?

An anonymous grievance mechanism is essential to combating modern-day slavery. CORE recommends in its report, Beyond Compliance: Effective Reporting Under the Modern Slavery Act, that businesses “put in place procedures for reporting concerns over modern slavery within the company’s operations, and communicate these effectively. Grievance mechanisms and remedy processes should be clear, transparent and accessible, and incidents should be reported and monitored.”

Workplace Options provides two different types of grievance mechanisms to fit your needs and the needs of your supply chain.

WOVO is our mobile-phone tool that instantly and anonymously connects workers with management and allows management to respond promptly. The tool also stores and tracks data to help uncover any recurring issues that could be related to modern slavery.

Labor Line is our third-party hotline where employees can anonymously report grievances, compliance issues, and more. Labor Line manages the information gathered and produces reports that will help identify and respond to issues.

To read the UK Modern Slavery Act in full, click here.

 

Sources:

Anti-Slavery International. (n.d.). What is modern slavery? Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/modern-slavery/

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. (n.d.). Modern slavery registry. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from http://www.modernslaveryregistry.org/

CORE. (2016, February). Beyond compliance: Effective reporting under the modern slavery act. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from http://corporate-responsibility.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/CSO_TISC_guidance_final_digitalversion_16.03.16.pdf