The Modern Slavery Act was introduced by the UK government in 2015 to stamp out cases of forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. The onus is now on businesses to eradicate these kinds of exploitation where they exist in the supply chain. So, what do business owners need to know?
The act defines compulsory labour as follows:
“(a) the person holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the other person is held in slavery or servitude, or
“(b) the person requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the other person is being required to perform forced or compulsory labour”.
The key question here is “are you aware that you are exploiting someone?” As the legislation suggests, if you are unsure – even if you are not consciously exploiting someone but still have doubts – you may still be on the wrong side of the law. At Frontline we work with a network of trusted suppliers who conform to the highest ethical standards, so you can get on with business safe in the knowledge that your workforce is fully legal.
Human trafficking is also a big part of the Modern Slavery Act. It is defined as:
“A person commits an offence if the person arranges or facilitates the travel of another person (“V”) with a view to V being exploited”.
Crucially, the act points out that it is “irrelevant” if the person consents to travel to work, and this is where business owners need to be careful. It’s wise to be especially diligent when choosing your suppliers. How transparent are they about their employment practices?
Indeed, transparency is central to the legislation. Businesses turning over upwards of £36m with operations in the UK are required to produce a statement proving that human trafficking is not taking place in their supply chain and showing the steps they are taking to prevent it. This must then be displayed prominently on the company’s website. However, because the legislation applies to a vast number of companies across the globe, it is difficult to keep tabs on who is genuine – contact our experts if you have any doubts about your current suppliers.
You could face a substantial prison term for contravening the act, and the negative publicity of a high-profile court case could spell the end for your business. If you are unsure about what constitutes exploitation under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act, call Frontline today for a confidential consultation.