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Posted 16 September 2016
by Stephen Jennings

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 – How Does This Affect Your Business?

Last year saw the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA). The aim of the Act is to combat crimes of slavery and human trafficking to reflect an increasing realisation in the UK that businesses have a role to play in tackling these crimes. 

Who is affected?

The MSA applies to commercial organisations with a global annual turnover of over £36 million.

What is required?

The MSA requires relevant organisations to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. The statement must set out the steps that the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and trafficking is not occurring in any part of its business, including its supply chains.

When will this apply?

The MSA came into force on 29 October 2015 and businesses with a year-end date of 31 March 2016 were required to publish a statement covering their 2015/16 financial year.

What should the statement cover?

There is no prescribed layout or content so each organisation will be free to decide what information should be included and how this should be set out. The statement should be published on the organisation’s website and should be readily available after the end of the financial year. The government has recommended that, as this document will be available for inspection by the public, it should be in simple language that is easily understood.

Is there a procedure for approving the statement?

The statement should be approved by the board of directors and signed by at least one director. If there is a group of companies, each relevant company within the group is required to approve and sign the statement, although this can be the same for each group company.

What happens if a company does not comply?

Failure to produce a statement under the MSA could lead to serious consequences. The secretary of state may seek an injunction requiring the organisation to comply. If the organisation still fails to do so, the organisation could face an unlimited fine as punishment for contempt of court.

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About the author

Stephen Jennings

Partner and Solicitor

Partner in the litigation department specialising in employment law, he is the relationship manager for many of the firm's employment clients