Out-Law Analysis | 16 Oct 2015 | 9:48 am | 2 min. read
The 2015 Modern Slavery Act requires all "commercial organisations" with a turnover or group turnover of £36 million or more which are either incorporated in the UK or carry on a business in the UK to publish an annual anti-slavery statement. This must be available in a prominent place on the company's website, and must be provided within 30 days of receiving a request to see it.
A retailer will be required to comply with the reporting requirements if it:
Retailers with subsidiaries in the UK will need to consider whether the reporting requirements in the Act apply just to the subsidiaries, or also to the parent company. Retailers supplying goods or services to UK-based customers but which have no office or employees in the UK will also need to consider the application of the Act to their businesses.
What to include in the statement
If a retailer falls within the scope of the Act, the obligation to publish an anti-slavery statement is mandatory. However, the content of the statement is not mandatory.
The Act provides some helpful suggestions of issues that firms may wish to address in their statements:
Approval and publication
A retailer that is a body corporate must have its anti-slavery statement approved by the board, and signed by a director. If it is a partnership, the statement must be approved by the partners or members.
Surprisingly, the obligation to produce a statement is enforced by an injunction, but carries no criminal or financial penalties for non-compliance. However, retailers that do not comply with their obligations run the risk of reputational damage.
For most large retailers, management and oversight of international supply chains will be the most difficult part of the new requirements. However, there are some practical steps that they can consider:
Paul Gillen is a retail employment law expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.