Reporting on modern slavery in supply chains

Rathbone Greenbank played an important role in lobbying for a clause demanding increased corporate transparency on supply chain risk to be included in the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Rathbone Greenbank played an important role in lobbying for a clause demanding increased corporate transparency on supply chain risk to be included in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Our involvement has continued as this vital piece of legislation has progressed.

Since the Act became law in March 2015, Rathbone Greenbank and other stakeholders have been working with the Home Office to finalise guidance on the implementation of the Act’s provisions.

On 29 October 2015, we were invited to the launch of the Home Office’s guidance document for transparency in supply chains by Karen Bradley MP, Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime.

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires UK companies (both private and listed) with an annual global turnover in excess of £36m to develop and publish a slavery and human trafficking statement each year. The purpose behind the statement is relatively simple – companies should now set out what steps they have taken to ensure activities and behaviours consistent with modern slavery are not taking place in their business or supply chains.

The Act applies to companies across the economic spectrum, including many whose activities would not necessarily be associated with the risks of modern slavery. This broad coverage will be important in helping to drive down the incidence of modern slavery in the interdependent operations of the global economy. With such a wide variety of companies asking questions of their suppliers, more revealing data will be gathered on the nature and occurrence of modern slavery which, in turn, will help to generate more effective solutions.

At the launch event, Karen Bradley summarised the aims and benefits of the transparency duty: “The government has introduced harsher penalties, and better protections for victims in the landmark Modern Slavery Act.

Consumers, businesses and investors will now have valuable information to inform them on the companies they are supporting – and shoppers can make more informed decisions at the checkout. Businesses risk damaging their reputation, or their bottom line, if they don’t take action to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.”