Modern Slavery Act: How is the Tech Sector Responding?

A new techUK paper explores how tech firms are responding to rules on modern slavery and provides recommendations for Government to help improve business reporting.

A new report from techUK investigates current modern slavery reporting standards in the tech sector and makes recommendations for both businesses and Government to help improve the quality of reporting and further drive out modern slavery from tech supply chains.

The 2015 Modern Slavery Act is one of the world’s first national laws for combatting modern slavery. Section 54 introduced a new requirement that all UK firms turning over £36 million publish a Modern Slavery Statement.

In Modern Slavery Act: How has the Tech Sector Responded?, techUK analyses a number of statements from tech companies. Overall there is a high level of compliance, but major variances in the quality and detail of reports. Several recommendations to improve the quality of reporting across the sector are made in the report, including:

  • Metrics to illustrate progress and compliance.
  • Examples and case studies of non-compliance and how these were resolved.
  • Details of corporate governance structures and reporting methods, even if the company believes it is at a low risk.
  • Details of whistleblowing mechanisms and how they have been used.
  • Responsibilities that have been assigned to staff, directors and board members.

Further recommendations are also made to Government to improve the reporting process, such as:

  • Work with industry to set a reporting framework with sector specific-advice.
  • Use insights from the UK’s global network of embassies to help companies identify credible NGOs to work with in-region.
  • Create an FAQ on questions received from businesses in respect to MSA reporting.
  • Engage with foreign governments and international fora (Commonwealth or G20) developing their own MSA type rules to align and seek equivalence in reporting requirements.

Speaking about the report, Julian David, techUK CEO said:

“The tech sector takes its role in combatting modern slavery very seriously and is keen to work with Government and other third-party organisations to do so. This is, however, a new area of reporting with little guidance on what “good” looks like. This techUK report is a first step in attempting to bridge the gap so that the sector can efficiently identify and enact positive change to stamp out any wrongdoing both within their business and across their supply chain."

Andrew Wallis, CEO of Unseen, went on to say:

“We very much welcome the lead that the tech sector is giving to tackling modern slavery. techUK’s report constructively highlights some of the innovative and positive responses by the tech sector. We particularly welcome the recognition for the need for real collaboration in tackling this complex issue. Unseen looks forward to further productive working with responsible businesses in the sector as we seek together to end modern slavery.”

Moira Oliver, Head of Policy and Chief Counsel, Human/Digital Rights - BT Group Corporate Affairs, concluded:

“Technology is a critical enabler in the global effort to eradicate modern slavery. It can help to protect the vulnerable from abuse, prevent crimes, pursue criminals and support care and remedy mechanisms for survivors. But it’s important that the technology sector collaborates not just on potential solutions but on reporting transparently the steps we’re taking.”

For more information, please download the report below.

Modern Slavery Act: How has the tech sector responded? (pdf)

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