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Victoria Regan

Partner - Brighton & Hove

30th July 2019

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – Obligations on organisations

Tuesday 30 July 2019 is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The United Nations established this day to raise awareness of human trafficking and to make people focus on how to stop it and how to protect the rights of the men, women and children who have fallen victim of human trading.

Whilst it is a day to raise awareness and to encourage people to organise appropriate events that highlight the main issues of trafficking persons, are you aware of your legal obligations as an organisation?

Modern slavery

Under the Modern Slavery Act, commercial organisations with a global turnover of £36 million or above and which provide goods and services in the UK, are required to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement every year.

However, even if your organisation does not meet this threshold, suppliers may still ask you what measures you have in place to prevent modern slavery. They may require evidence of these measures to enable them to show transparency and to evidence that they have taken steps to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.

As such, many smaller organisations choose to have a voluntary statement and policy in place, regardless of turnover. Failing to have such documents in place could potentially result in suppliers deciding to discontinue business relationships.

Slavery and human trafficking statement

Whilst the act does not outline the prescribed content of the statement, the Home Office recommends that the statement should be in simple language, succinct and in plain English.

Any statement should include:

  • Details of the organisation’s structure, its business and supply chains
  • Reference to any policies on slavery and human trafficking
  • Details of the due diligence processes undertaken e.g. impact assessments, action plans and grievance mechanisms
  • Identification of the parts of the business and supply chains potentially at risk and the steps taken to assess and manage the risks
  • Any key performance indicators considered appropriate in showing effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place
  • Details of training available to staff

The statements should be disclosed on the organisation’s website and the link placed in a prominent position on the homepage.

Anti-slavery & human trafficking policy

Organisations may also wish to have an anti-slavery and human trafficking policy in place to:

  • Assist in compliance with the Modern Slavery Act
  • Provide guidance to workers, contractors and business partners
  • Show what measures are being taken to prevent human trafficking within the business and its supply chains

Key components of the policy should be:

  • Confirmation of zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery
  • Commitment to act ethically and with integrity in all business dealings
  • Transparency in business and throughout supply chains
  • Evidence of effective systems to encourage early reporting
  • Methods of communication of policy both inside and outside of the organisation
  • Sanctions for breach of the policy e.g. dismissal of employee or termination of business contract

It’s essential that organisations clearly communicate their policy to staff as well as provide regular training. The policy should be clearly communicated to suppliers and subcontractors within the supply chain. This could also be disclosed on a company website and provided to new suppliers, contractors and business partners and re-enforced as appropriate.

Sanctions for non-compliance

In addition to damage to reputation and brand, if an organisation fails to comply with its obligations or fails to take steps to ensure that slavery is not taking place, the Secretary of State may seek an injunction requiring compliance. Failure to do so may result in an unlimited fine.

If you require assistance in drafting a statement or policy, please contact Victoria Regan, Partner in the Employment Department, at victoriaregan@rixandkay.co.uk

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