New laws & public opinion can help fight modern slavery, but companies should be more proactive in self-reporting

Author: Lindsay Fortado, Financial Times (UK), Published on: 22 June 2017

Forced labour was once a niche human rights matter for large companies but it has moved to the forefront of corporate concerns with the introduction of the UK's Modern Slavery Act. ... While the law is often criticised for lacking teeth... it has brought the conversation into the boardroom, legal experts say... When companies start to think about their suppliers and contractors and how those labourers are compensated, a range of problems may be uncovered. ... The risks are not only overseas... with instances of modern slavery uncovered by police in Britain every month. ... The UK act was the first national law in the world that requires companies to report on their supply chain risks but other countries have begun to follow suit ... [However], a year after companies were first required to report on their efforts, [Kevin Hyland, Independent Anti-Slavery Comissioner] was "disappointed" by the quality of the statements from companies... For now, the toughest penalties that companies will face for breaching anti-slavery legislation may be from the "court of public opinion" (Stuart Bell, Ergon Associates).

[Refers to John Lewis, Next, Nestlé, Rio Tinto]

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Related companies: John Lewis (part of John Lewis Partnership) Nestlé Next Rio Tinto