Minister for safeguarding Victoria Atkins Jacob King/PA Archive/PA Images
Organisations will be required to regularly publish their modern slavery statements via a new government reporting service and must be transparent about how they conduct their risk assessments and due diligence.
Large organisations, government departments and local authorities in England and Wales with an annual turnover or budget of £36 million will need to publish their statements on a portal similar to that used for gender pay gap reporting, which will be launched in early 2021.
This, the Home Office said, would make it easier for organisations to be held accountable for the steps they take to ensure modern slavery does not exist in their supply chains.
Until now, public sector organisations have not been required to publish modern slavery statements. In March, the government voluntarily published its own statement covering all departments, but all ministerial departments are now working towards individual modern slavery statements from 2021.
Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins said: “Sadly, we know that no sector is immune from the risks of modern slavery which can be hidden in the supply chains of the everyday goods and services we all buy and use.
“We expect businesses and public bodies to be open about their risks, including where they have found instances of exploitation and to demonstrate how they are taking targeted and sustained action to tackle modern slavery.”
The government is soon to publish guidance outlining the areas modern slavery reports must cover. Mandatory reporting areas will include the parts of the business and its supply chains where human trafficking and modern slavery is a risk; its due diligence process; modern slavery policies; effectiveness in ensuring modern slavery does not take place, measured against performance indicators; staff training around modern slavery; and the organisation’s structure.
Some 78% of respondents to the Home Office’s consultation on improving transparency in supply chains agreed that mandatory reporting areas would encourage organisations to take effective action against modern slavery.
The Home Office said the government still planned to establish a single enforcement body for workers’ rights and would be publishing its response to a consultation on the issue “in due course”.
Peter McAllister, the executive director at the Ethical Trading Initiative, an independent body that monitors supply chains to ensure they are in accordance with an ethical code, said: “ETI is pleased to see the changes introduced by government, in particular mandated reporting areas and extension to the public sector.
“We hope that this leads to greater compliance and greater action from more companies.”
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