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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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
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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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
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
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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29 July 2015

CORE says UK Govt. must ensure that new measures shine a light into company supply chain practices

Author: CORE Coalition

CORE welcomes today’s announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron that companies with a turnover of more than £36 million will be required to report on slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains from October...CORE is now calling on the government to provide clear guidelines to business, detailing: the steps they are taking to assess and manage the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains; their organisational structure; policies; and staff training on the issue. The government must also ensure that a centralised repository for all slavery and human trafficking statements is established. Without this, it will be very difficult for investors, consumers and civil society organisations to find out what actions companies are taking, and to hold them to account.

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29 July 2015

UK Govt. to require companies with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual slavery & human trafficking statement from October

Author: UK Prime Minister's Office & Home Office

David Cameron will seek to work more closely with the Vietnamese government to combat human trafficking as he visits Vietnam...The diplomatic efforts come as the government prepares to step up efforts at home to end the modern slavery trade. A raft of new measures enshrined in the Modern Slavery Act will come into force on Friday...The government will also announce today that from October it will force companies with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. This measure is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and will cover all large businesses who do business in the UK and have supply chains elsewhere in the world, for example South East Asia. In this statement a business must describe the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of their supply chains or their own business, or they must disclose that they have taken no such steps.

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