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
16 August 2014

David Cameron could have been an anti-slavery hero [UK]

Author: Frank Field MP in Spectator (UK)

When I helped bring the Modern Slavery Bill to parliament I thought here, surely, was a piece of legislation that the PM would want to own...But...[w]ary of alienating the business community, he balked at the idea of stipulating that quoted companies must report on how they were checking their supply chains against their use of slave labour. He thought this would introduce an unnecessary regulatory burden on businesses.In fact, a host of big businesses from Tesco to the Co-op, from Primark to investment bankers like Rathbones, would welcome the legislation...By not forcing companies to conduct due diligence, to declare their supply chains slave-free, Cameron has denied them the best line of defence: ‘I checked my suppliers, as the law demands.’...I challenge the churches to draw inspiration from the great Christian abolitionist, William Wilberforce, and galvanise their followers to stamp out slavery. Now as then, if they choose, they can be a great lobbying force for good.

Article
22 July 2014

Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group publishes alternative Modern Slavery Bill

Author: Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group

The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) has created an Alternative Modern Slavery Bill, to assist in the scrutiny and strengthening of the government’s Modern Slavery Bill currently before the Parliament. At present, the Modern Slavery Bill drafted by the government lacks the necessary provisions to successfully prevent and prosecute modern slavery offences, and protect the victims of these crimes. The provisions contained within this Alternative Bill are those which the ATMG feel are vital for inclusion in UK anti-slavery legislation to ensure it is robust, world-leading and victim-focused. These include a range of offences to capture all forms of  modern slavery; comprehensive victim protection measures, including a defence for those who have been forced to commit crimes and a statutory National Referral Mechanism; an Anti-Slavery Commissioner role which has strong powers and a clear independence; and a provision to tackle slavery in supply chains....You can see the ATMG Alternative Modern Slavery Bill here... 

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Item
9 July 2014

UK: Parliament calls for written evidence on Modern Slavery Bill

Author: House of Commons Public Bill Committee

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Government’s Modern Slavery Bill? If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill...The Bill…has four main parts…Part 2 would introduce two new civil orders to enable the courts to place restrictions on those convicted of modern slavery offences, or those involved in such offences but not yet convicted...Part 3 would establish a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner to encourage good practice on the prevention of modern slavery offences and the identification of victims...Part 4...includes a new statutory defence for slavery or trafficking victims compelled to commit criminal offences, and provision for new child trafficking advocates...The Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Monday 21 July; it will stop receiving written evidence...on Tuesday 14 October...

Download the full document here

Article
9 April 2014

The British Retail Consortium welcomes the Draft Modern Slavery Bill [UK]

Author: EPR Retail News (USA)

The British Retail Consortium [BRC]...welcomed the publication of the report of a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill. The retail industry supports the approach outlined in the Draft Bill which is intended to expose the hidden crime of slavery, bring more perpetrators to justice and protect and support victims. Responsible retailers have been active in tackling exploitation in their supply chains...The retail industry is pleased that the Committee supported the BRC’s recommendation to allow individual companies to decide how to allocate responsibility for tackling exploitation within their businesses...The BRC has also welcomed the Committee’s recommendation to amend the Companies Act to give effect to the Bill’s reporting requirements. Companies covered by the act are already required to report on “social, community and human rights issues” and adding Modern Slavery to this existing list is a pragmatic solution that retailers will welcome...

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Article
3 April 2014

[PDF] Draft Modern Slavery Bill - Report

Author: House of Lords & House of Commons Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill

Our Report recommends the following key steps to improve the draft Bill...[including] taking steps to make sure that goods and services produced elsewhere but sold in the UK are free from the taint of slavery...We recommend that, as a proportionate and industry-supported initial step, quoted companies be required to include modern slavery in their annual strategic reports. This could be done in a straightforward way by amendment of section 414C of the Companies Act 2006 to include modern slavery among the issues which companies are required to address in the strategic report. We recommend that the Secretary of State, by Order, specify the requirements for the modern slavery section of companies’ strategic report. These requirements must include explanations of how the company has, with respect to modern slavery: a) verified its supply chains to evaluate and address risks b) audited suppliers c) certified goods and services purchased from suppliers d) maintained internal accountability standards, and e) trained staff. [refers to Ikea, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Amazon, Primark, Sainsbury]

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Article
27 March 2014

Investors call for supply chain transparency legislation in UK modern slavery bill

Author: Charlotte Malone, Blue & Green Tomorrow

Investors with a total of £195 billion in assets under management are calling for Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) legislation to be embedded in the UK modern slavery bill. They argue that human rights abuses not only present ethical concerns but also place financial returns at risk.The group of investors say that complex supply chains can leave business vulnerable to association with human rights abuses and that embedding transparency legislation will encourage companies to take action. Failure to manage human rights abuses can “impact dramatically on companies and their shareholders” due to reputations being damaged and supply chains being disrupted, they added.

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Article
14 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
21 November 2014

NGOs release briefing on Modern Slavery Bill re transparency in the supply chain

Author: Transparency in Supply Chains Coalition

This briefing has been prepared on behalf of a coalition of corporate accountability, fairtrade, development and anti-slavery groups who are campaigning for effective measures on supply chain transparency to be included in the Bill. We strongly support the Government’s introduction at Report Stage in the House of Commons of a measure to address transparency in the supply chain in respect of Modern slavery. This was in response to clear cross-party support for a reporting requirement to be included within the Modern Slavery Bill. However, we believe that the amendment that has been added to the Bill must be strengthened in several areas if it is to be effective

 

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