UK: The Modern Slavery Act 2015 – Updated Governmental Guidance

The Government Guidance Transparency in Supply Chains has been revised and reissued. This note summarises the changes from the previous guidance. It should be noted that the revised statement remains only guidance and that it does not amend the Modern Slavery Act 2015 itself.

The key amendments in a nutshell

  1. Voluntary compliance: the guidance encourages organisations with turnovers less than the s.54 threshold of £36m also to produce a Transparency Statement. Businesses are also encouraged to be transparent about recruitment practices, their anti-slavery policies and are enjoined to take steps proportionate to their business sector, their size and their operational reach;

  2. Greater emphasis on the content of S.54 statements: the guidance uses very much stronger language to encourage businesses to include information in relation to each of the six categories of information referred to in section 54(5) of the Act;

  3. Signatory of S.54 statements: the guidance recommends as "best practice" that statements are signed by a board director and the date when the relevant board approved the statement is included.

  4. Keeping a track record: it is recommended that companies keep old statements available on their websites so people can monitor changes and developments year on year. There is perhaps some suspicion that companies might be inclined to simply re-date their statements year on year.

  5. Child Labour: the guidance now includes definitions in relation to child labour with reference to the International Labour Organisation. The inclusion suggests Government is taking a close interest in the employment of children.

  6. Revised statements on the time for publication of S54 statements: it is now recommended that statements be published as soon as "possible" after the financial year end. It is still the expectation that statements should be published within 6 months following the year end.

  7. Greater emphasis on Due Diligence: the guidance puts strong emphasis on the importance of human rights due diligence. There is an expectation expressed that modern slavery due diligence will form a part of wider corporate social responsibility and human rights due diligence process.

If you require any assistance in understanding the implications of the revised guidance or in your general compliance approach to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 please feel free to contact Simon Shooter at [email protected].

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