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
21 October 2014

Surprise news from UK Home Office re Modern Slavery Bill adds momentum to Transparency in Supply Chains campaign

Author: CORE Coalition

The Home Office surprised human rights campaigners this week with an announcement that it plans to include measures in the Modern Slavery Bill to address slavery in global supply chains. CORE Director, Marilyn Croser, offered a cautious welcome to the news saying, “We are delighted with Karen Bradley’s announcement that the government will include supply chain measures in the Modern Slavery Bill. We are keen to see more details of the proposal: Which companies will be covered? Who will be consulted? What information will be reported?” Initial signals from the Home Office are encouraging...Minister Karen Bradley wrote to the chairs of the public bill committee informing them of the government’s intention to table an amendment on supply chains. 

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Article
14 October 2014

Commentary: Ethical Trading Initiative representative says bill does not “tackle modern slavery in supply chains”

Author: Cindy Berman, Ethical Trading Initiative, commentary for Institute for Human Rights and Business

"UK Modern Slavery Bill: Will it protect, respect and ensure access to redress for workers?", 14 Oct 2014

…The Modern Slavery Bill is the first of its kind, and the UK government’s commitment to being a global leader in tackling this crime is admirable…[W]hat’s the problem with the current Bill?...[T]here is currently nothing in the draft legislation to tackle modern slavery in supply chains. Yet it is in the private economy…that most of the 21 million workers in forced labour or trafficking for labour exploitation are to be found…Civil society advocacy and anti-trafficking groups have been calling for better legislation for years on this…The Bill classically falls under the ‘Protect’ pillar of the UN Guiding Principles…We sent a…message to the Prime Minister…asking him for three things in the…Bill: Require companies to be transparent and accountable for tackling modern slavery; Expand the role and remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority; Ensure an independent and enforcement role for an Anti-Slavery Commissioner that will ensure access to redress for victims…

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Article
13 October 2014

Big Business to be held to account to keep supply chains slavery free

Author: UK Home Office & Karen Bradley MP

Big businesses will have to publicly state each year what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free, Home Office Minister Karen Bradley announced today. The measure is to be included in the Modern Slavery Bill, currently going through Parliament, and goes further than any similar legislation in the world by applying to businesses regardless of the nature of a company or what it supplies…[C]ases of labour exploitation have overtaken sexual exploitation demonstrating the clear need for this pioneering legislation…A consultation will be held to set the exact threshold for the size of business to ensure the system is both fair and robust. Statutory guidance will also be produced setting out the kinds of information that might be disclosed to help companies comply…The duty of disclosure announced today will apply regardless of the nature of the company or what it supplies…

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Article
13 October 2014

UK firms will have to disclose actions they have taken to ensure slavery free supply chains

Author: Alan Travis, Guardian (UK)

"UK firms to face new rules aimed at ending slavery in supply chains", 13 Oct 2014

Large companies are to face an annual duty of disclosure over the steps they have taken to ensure their supply chains are “slavery free”, Home Office ministers have announced. Karen Bradley, the minister for modern slavery and organised crime, said the measure would be included in the modern slavery bill going through parliament, which brings together current offences on trafficking and slavery…The measure in Britain is designed to apply more widely to all large companies, regardless of their products or their nature…The announcement came as the Salvation Army reported that the number of cases of labour or sexual exploitation supported by it under a Home Office contract had risen by 62% over the past year…

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Article
9 September 2014

CORE urges UK Govt. to hold companies accountable for abuses abroad including forced labour, land grabs, conflict minerals

Author: Marilyn Croser, CORE in Guardian (UK)

Since 2008, there has been an unprecedented rise in human rights violations globally, up 70% according...to the 2014 Human Rights Risk Atlas published by risks analytics firm Maplecroft...This autumn offers opportunities for the introduction of two targeted regulatory measures to address the impacts of business activities on human rights. Firstly, an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill requiring large UK companies to report on the steps they are taking to identify and eradicate slavery in their supply chains. Secondly, an EU regulation that will require relevant EU companies to carry out due diligence to ensure that they source minerals responsibly.UK human rights groups, investors, parliamentarians from all parties and business leaders back the proposed amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill...Responsible businesses welcome legislation as a way of levelling the playing field and setting out clear expectations. 

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Article
4 September 2014

CORE: UK Govt. must legislate to tackle corporate human rights abuse abroad

Author: CORE Coalition

One year on from the launch of the UK's Business and Human Rights Action Plan, the CORE Coalition, whose members include Amnesty International, Oxfam, and WWF, is calling on the government to seize opportunities in the next few months to eradicate slavery from UK company supply chains and to end the trade in conflict minerals...The CORE Coalition is calling on government to: introduce new requirements for large UK companies to report on what they are doing to eradicate slavery from their supply chains, through an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill....back calls for a mandatory EU scheme to end the trade in conflict minerals that fund armed groups in countries including Colombia, the DRC and the Central African Republic, and which end up in hi-tech goods, including mobile phones and computers sold in the UK....Conduct a review of access to justice in the UK for victims of corporate abuse abroad. 

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Article
29 August 2014

CORE submission to Joint Committee on Human Rights re Modern Slavery Bill

Author: CORE

"Modern Slavery Bill: Submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights", 27 Aug 2014

CORE welcomes the Bill and the opportunity to submit evidence to the Joint Committee...To date, voluntary mechanisms have proved ineffective in tackling slavery and forced labour in the supply chain. The Bill therefore presents an important opportunity for a more effective approach by introducing a legislative measure to improve corporate transparency and accountability with regard to the steps companies take to minimise the risk of the most serious labour rights violations being present in their supply chain. [Includes recommendations for changes to the Bill which would enhance human rights protections.]

Download the full document here

Article
29 August 2014

ETI & British Retail Consortium letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Author: Ethical Trading Initiative & British Retail Consortium

We  welcome the  introduction  of  the  Modern  Slavery  Bill and  the  UK  Government’s  commitment to  eradicate  the  abuse  and  exploitation  of  workers,  both  in  this  country  and  globally...This letter  represents  the  views  of  ETI  and  BRC  member  companies  and  organisations,  amongst whose  logos  appear  below.  The  following  are  some  changes  we  would  like  to  see  in  the  Modern Slavery  Bill that could  help us make  further  progress. First,  we would  like  to  see  a  clause  in  the  Bill  that  calls  for transparency  in  supply  chains...Second,  the Gangmasters  Licensing  Authority...is  an  example  of  an  effective  body  that  UK industry  helped  establish  to  manage  and  mitigate  risks  of  slavery  in  the  food  and  agriculture sector. We would like to see this model extended to other  high‐risk  areas  such  as fisheries, apparel, construction,  cleaning,  care  and  hospitality....Third,  alongside  our  own  efforts  to  take  responsibility  for  policies  and  actions on  modern  slavery in our global  supply  chains,  we  would  like  you  to  assure  us  that  there  will be an independent  Anti-­Slavery  Commissioner with appropriate power  to  monitor  the  legislation,  ensure  compliance  and take  action  where  necessary.

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Article
29 August 2014

ETI & British Retail Consortium letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Author: Ethical Trading Initiative & British Retail Consortium

We welcome the introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill and the  UK  Government’s  commitment to eradicate the abuse and exploitation of workers, both in this country and globally...This letter represents the views of ETI and BRC member companies and organisations, amongst whose logos appear below. The following are some changes we would like to see in the Modern Slavery Bill that could help us make further progress. First, we would like to see a clause in the Bill that calls for transparency in  supply  chains...Second, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority...is an example of an effective body that UK industry helped establish to manage and mitigate risks of slavery in the food and agriculture sector. We would like to see this model extended to other high‐risk areas such as fisheries, apparel, construction, cleaning, care and hospitality...Third, alongside our own efforts to take responsibility for policies and  actions on modern slavery in our global supply chains, we would like you to assure us that there will be an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner with appropriate power to monitor the legislation, ensure compliance  and take action where necessary.

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Article
27 August 2014

Walk Free petition: Ask David Cameron PM to ensure UK companies lead the fight against modern slavery

Author: Walk Free

…Slavery is known as the hidden crime. Understanding our connection to modern slavery through the products and services we buy is not easy. Consider that over 130 goods from more than 70 countries are produced with forced labour…We rely on the brands we know and love but there is no legal requirement for any company in the UK to do everything possible to show that they take seriously their responsibilities to respect workers’ freedom from slavery…The Modern Slavery Bill provides a unique opportunity for the UK to be a world leader by introducing new legislation to ensure that large companies can be held to account. These changes are supported by business and parliamentarians. Call on the UK’s Prime Minister…to use the opportunity of the Modern Slavery Bill to introduce legislation so that UK companies lead the way in the fight against modern slavery.

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