A briefing session aimed at helping smaller businesses to understand their obligations under the new Modern Slavery Act will take place later this month.
Under the Act, commercial organisations which supply goods or services and have turnover of £36m or more, will have to publish an annual ‘Slavery Statement’. The statement has to set out what they are doing to ensure there is no exploitation of workers in their own organisation or in any of their suppliers.
About 12,000 UK firms will be covered by the Act, which will compel them to report prominently on their website that either they have checked their entire supply chain and are positive they have no slave labour or they haven’t checked. Failure to comply with either option could result in the Secretary of State for Business obtaining a court order to force compliance.
Businesses with a financial year end of 31 March 2016 will be the first required to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year 2015/16. The report must be published within six months of their financial year end, ie, by October 2016.
While the Act directly affects only businesses with an annual turnover in excess of £36m, the requirement for large businesses to evidence actions throughout their supply chain could lead to the need for similar declarations from SMEs.
To assist businesses in the region, East Midlands Chamber* is hosting a workshop, in partnership with Chamber patron KPMG, to explore the potential impact of the Act on businesses and the new obligations which may arise from its introduction.
The workshop will include input from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, which provides a licensing scheme that regulates businesses which provide workers to the fresh produce supply chain and horticulture industries and their associated packaging and processing sectors, to make sure they meet the employment standards required by law.
It takes place on 22 March, between 8am and 9.30am, at KPMG’s Leicester offices, in Wellington Way.
Chris Hobson, the Chamber’s Director of Policy, said: “This legislation is clearly well-intentioned and will make big firms scrutinise their supply chains to ensure they are not employing slave labour or children.
“However, while it is seemingly a fairly simple concept to put into practice, there is rising concern that it could be overly-burdensome for some companies, particularly smaller ones, in the supply chain, for which this legislation has definitely sneaked in under the radar.”
Places at the free event can be booked online at http://bit.ly/1UvGBU1.