Globalisation means that goods and services bought in the UK may have a long and tangled supply chain, including countries where forced labour is common. Slavery may have played a part in the clothes we wear, the gadgets we use and the food we eat.
Businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more are now required, under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. This must set out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and trafficking are not taking place in its business or supply chain (or state that it has taken no such steps).
Affected businesses will need to put appropriate time and resources into investigating and preventing slavery in their supply chain and producing a statement which does not put them at risk of stakeholder disapproval, critical media attention and activist campaigning.
Organisations with a financial year ending 31 March 2016 will be the first to have to publish their statements - within six months of that date – and should be preparing accordingly.
Michael Burd and James Davies work at Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors. Email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org