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Home Office proposals look to place more responsibility on organisations when it comes to modern slavery reporting.

In a consultation released this week, the Home Office has announced a new set of proposals designed to address the existence of modern slavery in the workplace, which include making modern slavery statements more comprehensive and extending the reporting requirement to public organisations.

The existing modern slavery reporting requirements, which were introduced under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, require private sector organisations with a turnover of £36m to produce a statement each year. These statements should set out the steps the organisation has taken to make sure modern slavery has not taken place in their business or in their supply chains.

Whilst thousands of organisations have been able to comply with these obligations thus far, the Home Office has expressed their disappointment that many are ‘failing to go beyond minimum compliance requirements’.

In response, the government is looking to beef up the reporting requirements to make them more effective in combatting modern slavery. High up on the agenda is the desire to ensure statements are more uniform so that they may be compared against previous years.

Currently, the Act merely suggests six areas that organisations should include information on in their statement, such as workplace policies and training on modern slavery. However, the Home Office is hoping to introduce mandatory reporting areas to ensure statements are comprehensive and fit for purpose in the future.  

Proposals also extend to the publication of modern slavery statements and plans are in place to introduce a single annual reporting deadline that all organisations must abide by. An online portal has also been suggested as a way of increasing transparency around modern slavery statements, an idea that is perhaps influenced by the relative success of the gender pay gap reporting procedure.

The consultation also revealed the government’s intention to implement stricter enforcement action when it comes to obligations under the Modern Slavery Act, including setting up a specific enforcement body to impose sanctions on organisations who fail to publish their statement appropriately by the required deadline.

As the consultation is set to close in September 2019, organisations would do well to keep an eye out for any developments in the months that follow. It is also worth noting that organisations who do not meet the eligibility threshold may still voluntary opt to publish a modern slavery statement and may wish to make use of our modern slavery statement template when doing so.

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