How will the Modern Slavery Act 2015 affect your business?
New legislation for bigger businesses could have a trickledown effect on their supply chain. Have you considered the potential impact for your business, or how you should make a statement?
This legislation has been brought into force to help secure prevention of slavery, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. One of the requirements of this act is that businesses with a turnover of £36+ million plus must, each financial year, provide a statement outlining what steps, if any they are taking to eliminate modern slavery not only in their own business but also in their supply chain. This means smaller businesses too could be asked to provide such a statement or risk losing their custom.
Whilst a business could simply issue a statement saying they are doing nothing and have no policies regarding modern slavery, under the legislation these statements must be published in a prominent position on their website where it is accessible to the public. The media and pressure groups will inevitably pick up on this statement meaning large businesses will inevitably want to be seen to be taking appropriate steps as opposed to simply stating they are doing nothing and risking damage to their reputation.
As the requirement is to comment upon what is being done in the supply chain as well as their own business, this means there will be a trickledown effect. Whilst small companies are not legally obliged to provide a Modern Slavery Statement they may find that the larger companies to whom they are supplying or those further up the supply chain start requesting them and failure to oblige may lead to a loss of business. It is therefore important that small business holders are aware of this legislation and what they need to consider if asked to provide such a statement.
The Government have published a practical guide regarding this new legislation that may assist businesses faced with preparing a Modern Slavery Statement.
Whilst it may take a couple of years for the real effect of this legislation to be seen, small businesses need to start thinking about these matters in order that should a request be made from them they are in a position to comply and not lose their trade. A practical start is to consider the Government publication on the matter and if you are still unsure regarding what is required from you or need assistance in drafting a Modern Slavery Statement then you should seek to obtain legal advice.