To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 18 November (HL9994), when they plan to implement the changes to strengthen and future proof transparency of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 highlighted in their response to the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act, published on 22 September.
15 December 2020
Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 established the UK as the first country in the world to require businesses to report annually on steps taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. To comply with the requirement, statements must be:
- Published annually via a prominent link on the organisation’s homepage;
- Approved by the Board of Directors or equivalent;
- Signed by a Director or equivalent.To assess compliance with the legal requirements, the Home Office contracted the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) to undertake an audit on the Home Office’s behalf. The audit findings on levels of compliance were published on 17 September 2020 in the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s annual report (available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-anti-slavery-commissioners-annual-report-2019-to-2020).
The injunctive power in the legislation has not been used to date. The Government has committed to strengthening the legislation and our response to the transparency in supply chains consultation, published on 22 September 2020, announced an ambitious package of changes to section 54, including introducing mandatory reporting topics, a single reporting deadline and a central Government-run registry, to enable Government and others to continuously monitor compliance. These measures require primary legislation and will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.
In the meantime, we will be asking organisations to start preparing for the new requirements, including by publishing their statements on the new Government-run modern slavery registry, which is due to launch in 2021. The new registry will enhance transparency by making modern slavery statements available in one place for the first time. It will provide greater visibility of the steps organisations are taking to prevent modern slavery in their global supply chains and empower investors, consumers and civil society to scrutinise action and monitor progress.
The Government has also committed to considering enforcement options in line with the development of the Single Enforcement Body for employment rights, led by BEIS.