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Home Office publishes its first modern slavery statement

Out-Law News | 07 Dec 2021 | 10:44 am | 1 min. read

The UK Home Office has published its first modern slavery statement, describing the steps the department has taken to address the issue in its supply chain.

The statement also provides a reminder of some of the planned changes to Modern Slavery legislation.

The statement is noteworthy given the Home Office’s role in enforcing the transparency obligation, said compliance expert Neil Carslaw of Pinsent Masons.

The statement follows a recommended structure and sets goals and KPIs in order to encourage year on year progress, in line with recommended practice.

Anti-slavery steps taken by the Home Office over the period covered by the statement included creating a network of “director-level anti-slavery advocates” who helped increase collaboration across the government and civil service, and risk-assessing 286 of its contracts. The department said it had also organised modern slavery workshops attended by more than 1,000 public sector officials and promised a new modern slavery strategy in spring 2022.

The statement of the Home Office, and those of other ministerial departments, completes one of the government’s commitments following an independent review of modern slavery legislation in the UK.

Neil Carslaw

Senior Associate

It is interesting as it gives an example of a modern slavery statement by the body that currently enforces compliance. It also confirms that the Home Office continues to intend to reform the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Alongside requiring large public sector organisations to publish modern slavery statements, the UK government committed to mandate areas that modern slavery statements should cover, require organisations to publish their statements on a government registry, create a single reporting deadline and introduce civil penalties for non-compliance.

According to the Home Office’s statement, more than 6,000 statements have now been submitted to the government modern slavery registry, which the Home Office encourages companies to use.

The statement also highlighted the Home Office’s intention to amend the 2015 Modern Slavery Act “when parliamentary time allows”. The planned legislative change will enable objectives in respect of civil penalties, a compulsory structure for statements and a single reporting deadline to be achieved.

Neil Carslaw said: “This is a further step in the UK government’s plan to improve transparency and amend modern legislation”.

"It is interesting as it gives an example of a modern slavery statement by the body that currently enforces compliance. It also confirms that the Home Office continues to intend to reform the Modern Slavery Act 2015,” he said.

“Whilst the government’s approach and public awareness of the issue continues to develop, there have however been no changes to the underlying legislation - the legal requirements are the same as they were when the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced. The Home Office’s statement however also confirms that a new strategy on modern slavery is planned for spring 2022, and more detail may arise then,” Carslaw said.