The Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act has published the final report with 80 recommendations for changes to the Act. Several relate to Section 54, which covers how businesses report on their actions to measure and minimise risks in their operations and supply chains.
The review comes after criticism that the Act has not seen the results and surge in action that was anticipated, and the next step is for the Home Office to consider the report and choose which recommendations to adopt. Some will require amending primary legislation which is difficult in the present circumatances.
The recommendations relating to Section 54 (Transparency in Supply Chains) are:
- Government should establish a list of obligated businesses, though firms missed off the list, but still obligated will be liable for sanction.
- Remove Section 4(4)(b) which allows companies to say they took no action.
- The six reporting areas should be mandatory, not guidance.
- Update the statutory guidance to include a template of what information should be included for the six areas.
- Guidance should be updated so reporting sets out future steps.
- The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner should oversee s54 guidance and monitor compliance.
- Section 54 should be amended to make firms consider the entirety of supply chains, or explain why it has not and how this will change.
- Firms should have to refer to Modern Slavery Statements in Annual Reports.
- Not filing a statement should be an offence under the Company Director Disqualification Act.
- Government should run a central repository of statements for firms to upload their statements to.
- Statements should clearly state which 12-month period it applies to.
- The website hosting the statement should outline the statutory requirements.
- Enforcement should be strengthened with warnings, fines, court summons and disqualification of directors for failures to comply.
- Section 54 should be extended to public sector bodies with > £36m turnover and departments should publish a statement too.
- Non-compliant firms should not be eligible for public contracts and the Crown Commercial Service should keep a database on contractors and due diligence checks on businesses.
- The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner should commission research into how consumer attitudes to modern slavery can be influenced.
techUK will be engaging with the Home Offie and members on how to improve their Modern Slavery Statements, with a new version of our compliance report due later in the year.