UK Modern Slavery Act & Modern Slavery Registry

Our Modern Slavery Registry has moved: see www.modernslaveryregistry.org.

The Modern Slavery Bill was introduced to Parliament on 10 June 2014 and passed into law on 26 March 2015. The full text of the Act can be accessed here.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre maintains a public track record of companies' statements under the UK Modern Slavery Act. The new Modern Slavery Registry website contains over 1860 statements from companies in 27 sectors, headquartered in 29 countries. 

While the UK Modern Slavery Act was largely welcomed by civil society, serious concerns have been raised about its limitations.  Below is a selection of material relating to the Act including commentaries by leading business figures and NGOs.

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Article
15 April 2015

2 UK business leaders call for law on modern slavery to be toughened

Author: Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group & Ray O’Rourke, Chairman of Lang O’Rourke, in Huffington Post

"The Modern Slavery Bill: A Step in the Right Direction", 6 Apr 2015

The Global Slavery Index estimates that 36 million people are living in modern slavery today...Many of these modern slaves are to be found in the supply chains of western corporations...[T]he British Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Bill. We welcome the focus on the role of business, and the new obligations on companies to report the steps they are taking to tackle human trafficking and slavery in their supply chains...Disappointingly, companies can still comply with disclosure requirements through reporting they have taken no steps at all...The law should require companies with £1 billion turnover in high risk industries such as manufacturing, shipping, agriculture and construction to not only disclose their efforts but also take action to end slavery through specific anti-slavery risk management and due diligence and have these verified by a third party auditor...As business leaders, it is our responsibility not to turn a blind eye or to believe that this issue is too complex to deal with. 

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Article
26 March 2015

UK: Landmark bill to help eradicate modern slavery passes into law

Author: UK Home Office

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is the first of its kind in Europe, and one of the first in the world, to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st century. The new legislation significantly enhances support and protection for victims, gives law enforcement the tools they need to target today’s slave drivers, ensures perpetrators can be severely punished, and includes a world leading provision to encourage business to take action to ensure their end-to-end supply chains are slavery free. Having undergone extensive Parliamentary and public scrutiny, the Modern Slavery Act is one of the final pieces of legislation to be put on the statute books by this government.

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Article
26 March 2015

UK: Modern Slavery Bill focuses on criminalisation & border control rather than challenging causes of exploitation, says academic

Author: Judy Fudge, University of Kent, on openDemocracy

“The dangerous appeal of the modern slavery paradigm,” 25 Mar 2015

...In light of the growing consensus around the modern slavery paradigm, it is crucial to raise a caution about the downside of this approach…The government’s Modern Slavery Strategy, which it introduced to accompany its [Modern Slavery Bill]…, makes it clear that the focus is primarily, although not exclusively, on people who are trafficked across borders…The human rights of exploited workers [especially through tied-visas for migrant domestic workers] are brought under…an agenda that strengthens the government’s powers to control and punish at the same time as it closes borders…The government prefers light touch regulation [to tackle business practices that cultivate labour exploitation]…instead of imposing licensing requirements or enforcing labour legislation…[I]t is difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge [the modern slavery paradigm]…from the technologies of legal governance, criminal law and border controls, that are mobilised in its cause. These technologies tend to target marginal players rather than tackle the social processes that normalise exploitation.

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Article
25 March 2015

Anti-Slavery Europe analyses bill

Author: Klara Skrivankova, Anti-Slavery Europe

"Big step in the right direction but deficiencies leave us – and victims of modern slavery – wholly unsatisfied",

The final version of the Bill which is now the Modern Slavery Act leaves us with mixed feelings. On one hand it is a big step in the right direction with many good clauses but on the other there are still deficiencies that leave us – and victims of modern slavery – wholly unsatisfied...

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Article
12 December 2014

Blog: Modern slavery: If I had a hammer

Author: Cindy Berman, Head of Knowledge and Learning, Ethical Trading Initiative

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail," said Abraham Maslow. Modern slavery has never before had so much attention from the public, the media, and the politicians. The UK Modern Slavery Bill is a focus for much of this attention, and there is a huge body of individuals and organisations working feverishly to ensure it can serve as an example for the rest of the world...But there is a problem in the way the crime of modern slavery is being presented. There are constant references to traffickers, ‘slavers’ and criminals exploiting vulnerable men, women and children, making billions from illegal profit as if the problem is somehow ‘out there’ operating in the dark underbelly of society. And most governments, including the UK, seek to identify, prosecute, and punish these criminals by locking them up for a long time. The criminal justice system is a hammer.  The problem is, modern slavery is not a nail....

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Item
12 December 2014

Briefing Note on the Modern Slavery Bill

Author: Ethical Trading Initiative & British Retail Consortium

"Briefing Note on the Modern Slavery Bill", 5 Dec 2014

To date, ETI and BRC members have focused our influencing efforts on the Modern Slavery Bill in three areas and would like to see these strengthened in the final version of the Bill. Here, we list some of the proposed amendments tabled by MP's and Lords that align with these positions...As a coalition of major UK companies, trade unions and NGOs, we welcome the Modern Slavery Bill and the UK Government's commitment to eradicate the abuse and exploitation of workers, both in this country and globally. We congratulate the government in its ambition to be a global leader on this issue.

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25 November 2014

Letter from investors to UK Prime Minister supporting inclusion of supply chain reporting requirements in Modern Slavery Bill

Author: Alliance Trust, Aviva Investors, Boston Common Asset Management, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, Calvert Investments, Christian Brothers Investment Services, CCLA, Ecclesiastical Investment Management, Hermes Investment, Henderson Global Investors, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Newton Investment Management, The Pensions Trust, Rathbone Brothers, Royal London Asset Management, WHEB Asset Management

We are writing to welcome the Government’s decision to introduce corporate supply chains transparency reporting within the Modern Slavery Bill. As shareholders we have concerns that failure to manage human rights issues in increasingly complex supply chains may pose significant risks to business, and welcome moves which help increase transparency around supply chain management.

Download the full document here

Article
25 November 2014

Press Release: Investors support inclusion of supply chain reporting in Modern Slavery Bill

Author: Rathbone Investment Management, Hermes Investment Management

Investors with a total of £940billion in assets under management are backing the Government’s recent commitment to include proportionate supply chain reporting requirements in the Modern Slavery Bill. The Government’s introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill gives Parliament an opportunity to act decisively to protect the victims of modern slavery, and thereby establish the most effective regime in the world for the prosecution of slave masters and traffickers. More than 20 asset managers have already added their support for the inclusion of Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) legislation within the UK Modern Slavery Bill, including; Rathbone Investment Management; Hermes; Aviva Investors; Alliance Trust; BNP Paribas; CCLA; The Church Commissioners; Henderson Global Investors; Royal London Asset Management; WHEB; The Pensions Trust; The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust; Barrow Cadbury Trust; Boston Common Asset Management; Calvert Investments; Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc; CBF Church of England Funds; Church Commissioners for England; Church of England Pensions Board; Ecclesiastical Investment Management; Newton Investment Management; Worcester Diocesan Investment and Glebe Committee.

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Article
18 November 2014

UK's first anti-slavery commissioner threatens to expose companies that fail to take steps to eradicate forced labour from supply chains

Author: Peggy Hollinger, Financial Times

Britain’s first anti-slavery commissioner is threatening to expose companies that fail to take steps to eradicate forced labour from supply chains. Kevin Hyland, the former head of London’s Metropolitan Police human trafficking unit, was appointed last week by the Home Office to improve law enforcement against forced labour. His role is being created as part of the Modern Slavery bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords on Monday, which will also require companies to disclose the efforts being made every year to tackle slavery in their supply chains. [refers to Primark (part of Associated British Foods)]

 
 

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Article
4 November 2014

UK: Govt's former special envoy for human trafficking warns Modern Slavery bill fails to focus on needs of victims

Author: Amelia Gentleman, Guardian (UK)

The government’s modern slavery bill is a “lost opportunity,” the home secretary’s former special envoy for human trafficking has warned. Anthony Steen, who advised on the legislation and chairs the Human Trafficking Foundation, said the bill, which will be debated in parliament on Tuesday for its third reading, had “yawning gaps”, and failed to focus on the needs of victims of trafficking in the UK. “The bill is wholly and exclusively about law enforcement – but it shouldn’t be enforcement-based, it should be victim-based. We have majored on the wrong thing,” he said. “It is positive in the sense that it is an entirely new initiative, but is it going to do anything?”...Representatives from other charities working with the victims of human trafficking welcomed the recent announcement of an amendment requiring companies to show how they ensure their supply chains are “slavery free”. But they also expressed concern that the legislation focuses on prosecuting traffickers, rather than supporting victims of exploitation. Parosha Chandran, a human rights barrister and UN expert on trafficking, described the bill as “a red herring”. “I think the bill is very poor on victim protection. T

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