HR Expert: Modern Slavery Act 2015
My client has asked me if they need to update their modern slavery statement this month. Is this something they need to do?

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, certain organisations are responsible for publishing their modern slavery statements each year by the end of September. Whether or not your client will need to do this is dependent on a number of factors, which are explained in detail below.

The Act dictates that organisations with an annual turnover of at least £36million must publish updated modern slavery statements within 6 months of their financial year-end. This means that for those with a standard financial year, running from March to April, the deadline to publish these statements falls at the end of September each year. Completed statements should be published on your client’s website and confirm the steps taken to ensure slavery is not taking place in their organisation or supply chains.

Those organisations with a different financial year end will have to publish their updated statement within 6 months of the end of their financial year. This means they will not have a September deadline, but a corresponding deadline that falls sometime within the coming months.

Keeping the statement up to date will help maintain a positive reputation amongst customers and the general public. Showing that steps are taken to eradicate modern slavery will reaffirm the notion that your client runs a transparent and conscientious organisation, which is particularly important if they work in industries such as construction and agriculture which are more commonly associated with this form of labour abuse.  An enhanced reputation usually goes hand in hand with increased profitability, therefore taking time to complete the statement could be economically beneficial to your client, as well as a legal requirement.

You should also inform your client of the Home Office’s ongoing review of the Modern Slavery Act to assess its suitability. Early indications have suggested that the rules on modern slavery statements may change in the near future meaning that your client will need to review their current position.

If your client’s annual turnover fell below the turnover threshold in the future, then there is no statutory requirement for them to publish a modern slavery statement. However, they may still choose to do so if they regularly tender for work contracts because failing to complete a modern slavery statement may act as a barrier if it is a pre-requisite. Therefore, it would pay to complete and publish their statements and keep them updated each year.

Given the unwelcome growth of modern slavery, enforcement agencies are looking to place a greater responsibility on employers to prevent this practice wherever possible. Therefore, although it may not be a statutory requirement for all employers, it may be useful to publish a modern slavery regardless of the size of business, particularly if they have needed to do so previously.

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