Published On: Tue, Jun 16th, 2015

Human Rights: An Examination of the Modern Slavery Act

You would not be alone in thinking that slavery was basically abolished many years ago, but according to The Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 36 million people around the globe who are considered to be living in modern slavery today.

Quite clearly, the vast majority of companies operating in the UK have absolutely no inclination to exploit people in this way, but there is still some confusion surrounding how to successfully implement anti-slavery management systems.

Specialists such as Claims Directare regularly used to handling compensation claims on behalf of employees who have been injured as a result of negligence by their employer who has failed to protect them from injury. But another area where both businesses and workers need to ensure no exploitation is taking place, is with regard to aspects covered by the Modern Slavery Act.

What it means for businesses

Parliament recently passed the Modern Slavery Bill and it means that businesses now have some clear guidance as well as obligations on them to identify and report suspicions of human trafficking and slavery in their supply chains.

Business owners and directors with direct responsibility for running the business will be expected to sign a disclosure on behalf of the company so that there is clear accountability.

A surprising anomaly in the Modern Slavery Act according to some observers, is the fact that companies can comply with the disclosure requirements but are not currently compelled to take any action thereafter.

Transparency in supply chains

The newly implemented legislation is partly modelled on the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which also works on the basis that companies need to disclose practices that they believe may constitute slavery, but without the need to take any efforts themselves to eradicate the problem.



There are definitely industries that are considered to be higher risk when it comes to slavery practices and these include manufacturing, agriculture, shipping and construction. Businesses who operate in these industries are likely to be subject to a greater level of scrutiny and due diligence carried out by management is definitely required in order to ensure compliance with the Act.

Corporate responsibility

The new legislation imposes a level of moral responsibility as well as providing a legal framework which needs to be adhered to.

Director’s obligations are increasing, with anti-bribery and corruption laws already established along with workplace safety on the agenda. They now need to add the Modern Slavery Act to their list of responsibilities but overall, the view is that the Act is fundamental to good corporate governance and can be viewed as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and responsibility.

Long supply chains

Whilst every business owner and company director has to be vigilant when it comes to acting responsibly, the logical observation would be that the new Act is more likely to impact on large companies and any business where their supply chain is long.

If you are dealing directly with a supplier it is relatively easy to observe the manufacturing process and spot any issues that raise a warning flag regarding their practices.

It is not so easy for multi-nationals with complicated supply chains, but as most of us want to ensure that everyone enjoys basic human rights, the Modern Slavery Act at least gives business owners the chance to be the eyes and the ears needed for governments to take further action against illegal practices.

Guest Author :

Abby Pritchard is a sociologist. She loves sharing her insights on the web. Her articles can be found on many business and lifestyle sites.

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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