Section 54

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Administrative sanctions Reporting Transparency in supply chains

This provision requires businesses to report on the steps they have taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in their supply chains and organisation. Section 54 requires commercial organisations, defined as any organisation that supplies goods or services and meets a specific turnover threshold, to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation, stating the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its supply chains or in any part of its own business.

Statements must be approved by the board of directors or equivalent management body, and must be published on the business’ website with a link to the statement on the website’s homepage. If the business does not have a website it must make a copy of the statement available upon request.

Notes

Commercial organisations covered by section 54 are required to disclose and publish a slavery and human trafficking statement in every financial year.

This provision applies to businesses with an annual global net turnover —including the turnover of its subsidiaries— of £36m per year. The Act covers companies that supply goods and services and that carry out a business, or part of a business, in any part of the United Kingdom. “Business” under the Act is defined as including any “trade or profession”.

Section 54 also sets out details that statements ‘may’ include, for example:

  • the organisation’s structure, business and supply chains;
  • its policies on slavery and human trafficking;
  • its due diligence processes;
  • parts of the supply chain where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking;
  • its effectiveness in addressing slavery and human trafficking, and
  • training available to staff.

The requirement to report can only be enforced by the Secretary of State bringing civil proceedings requiring performance of the obligation to report.

This provision came into force in October 2015. Guidance was also issued at the time of entry into force in October 2015, providing further information on the content to be included in the statement.

 

Link to full text

Text

Section 54. Transparency in supply chains etc.

(1) A commercial organisation within subsection (2) must prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation.

(2) A commercial organisation is within this subsection if it—

(a) supplies goods or services, and

(b) has a total turnover of not less than an amount prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(b), an organisation’s total turnover is to be determined in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State.

(4) A slavery and human trafficking statement for a financial year is—

(a) a statement of the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place— (i) in any of its supply chains, and (ii) in any part of its own business, or

(b) a statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.

(5) An organisation’s slavery and human trafficking statement may include information about—

(a) the organisation’s structure, its business and its supply chains;

(b) its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;

(c) its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;

(d) the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;

(e) its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate;

(f) the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.

(6) A slavery and human trafficking statement—

(a) if the organisation is a body corporate other than a limited liability partnership, must be approved by the board of directors (or equivalent management body) and signed by a director (or equivalent);

(b) if the organisation is a limited liability partnership, must be approved by the members and signed by a designated member;

(c) if the organisation is a limited partnership registered under the Limited Partnerships Act 1907, must be signed by a general partner;

(d) if the organisation is any other kind of partnership, must be signed by a partner.

(7) If the organisation has a website, it must—

(a) publish the slavery and human trafficking statement on that website, and

(b) include a link to the slavery and human trafficking statement in a prominent place on that website’s homepage.

(8) If the organisation does not have a website, it must provide a copy of the slavery and human trafficking statement to anyone who makes a written request for one, and must do so before the end of the period of 30 days beginning with the day on which the request is received.

(9) The Secretary of State—

(a) may issue guidance about the duties imposed on commercial organisations by this section;

(b) must publish any such guidance in a way the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(10) The guidance may in particular include further provision about the kind of information which may be included in a slavery and human trafficking statement.

(11) The duties imposed on commercial organisations by this section are enforceable by the Secretary of State bringing civil proceedings in the High Court for an injunction or, in Scotland, for specific performance of a statutory duty under section 45 of the Court of Session Act 1988.

(12) For the purposes of this section—

“commercial organisation” means— (a) a body corporate (wherever incorporated) which carries on a business, or part of a business, in any part of the United Kingdom, or (b) a partnership (wherever formed) which carries on a business, or part of a business, in any part of the United Kingdom, and for this purpose “business” includes a trade or profession;

[…]

“slavery and human trafficking” means— (a) conduct which constitutes an offence under any of the following— (i) section 1, 2 or 4 of this Act, (ii) section 1, 2 or 4 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 (c. 2 (N.I.)) (equivalent offences in Northern Ireland), (iii) section 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (asp 7) (traffic in prostitution etc), (iv) section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (trafficking for exploitation), (v) section 47 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 13) (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour), or (b) conduct which would constitute an offence in a part of the United Kingdom under any of those provisions if the conduct took place in that part of the United Kingdom.

Law / United Kingdom / Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is the first piece of legislation in the UK dedicated to ‘modern slavery’. The Act consolidates and simplifies all of the criminal offences of forced labour, slavery and human trafficking into one Act.

The Act specifically provides for the making of reparation orders, requiring offenders to pay their victims damages, and creates a statutory defence for victims of modern slavery to protect them from prosecution for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. It also provides for the establishment of the office of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Finally, the Act imposes a requirement on certain businesses operating in the UK to disclose what activity they are undertaking to eliminate slavery and trafficking from their supply chains and their own businesses.