Slavery and human trafficking has become a priority for many governments around the world.
The UK Government passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to simplify and bring up to date the criminal law in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking. The Act (section 54) imposes a new obligation on UK businesses to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement setting out the steps it has taken to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its business or supply chain.
What businesses does this impact?
The requirement applies to all businesses that supply goods or services in the UK provided that it has an annual turnover of £36m. It does not need to be a UK registered entity. The turnover does not need to be UK turnover, provided it supplies some goods or services in the UK. The turnover of subsidiary entities (but not parent entities) is included in assessing whether the threshold is met. There is no requirement for the organisation to have a minimum number of employees, a minimum balance sheet total, or to be incorporated (or formed, if it is a partnership) in the UK. As a result, these rules will have extraterritorial effect and apply to a much wider range of organisations than just large companies under the UK Companies Act.
Reach out to your Baker McKenzie lawyer for the steps businesses should be taking to ensure compliance with the Modern Slavery Act, as well measures to consider taking with both suppliers and within your own business to address issues of modern slavery.