CORE and our partner organisations led the campaign for the introduction of the Transparency in Supply Chains clause into the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The clause requires all companies operating in the UK with a turnover of more than £36 million to publish an annual ‘slavery and human trafficking statement’, setting out what they’re doing to address those issues in their supply chains and business operations.
For the past few months, we’ve been working with civil society organisations, including KnowTheChain to prepare ‘Beyond Compliance: Effective Reporting under the Modern Slavery Act’, which was launched last week. It provides detailed guidance for companies that are already engaging with labour rights issues in their supply chains, and ideas on how companies can respond effectively to the new provision by linking wider human rights due diligence to their reporting.
To coincide with the launch, we worked with Business & Human Rights Resource Centre to analyse the 75 statements published to date. As reported in the Financial Times, this review found that many companies had not met the legislative requirements to have the statement signed by a director and to include a link to the statement from the homepage of their website. In fact, only nine statements met both requirements and included information on all six of the criteria suggested in the legislation, including due diligence, business model and relevant policies.
It’s early days for the Modern Slavery Act. A number of major companies supported the inclusion of the supply chain reporting provision and we hear repeatedly that engagement among business is at an all-time high. Company boards must now step up and show the leadership necessary to making it effective, and government should be prepared to step in if compliance doesn’t measure up.