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Modern slavery recommendations need prompt action

24 January 2019

IOSH HAS urged the UK Government to implement 21 recommendations for improvements to the Modern Slavery Act.

The Institution is particularly keen for the requirement for transparency in supply chains to be extended to public bodies, for company disclosures to be of consistent quality, and for the Government to act as an exemplar in its use of procurement standards, performance reporting and disclosures.

IOSH also supports the recommendation for a Government-controlled central repository to help address the stakeholder confusion identified in the report from the current two ‘disclosure’ websites run by non-governmental organisations.

These are just some of the important recommendations made in the second interim report from the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act, led by MPs Frank Field and Maria Miller and Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE.

Encouragingly, several recommendations align with actions IOSH has previously called for and which the advisory group it’s part of – Let’s Make it Work – has also requested.

Head of policy and public affairs at IOSH Richard Jones said, “Sadly, modern slavery continues to be a terrible scourge worldwide, one which campaigners believe is underestimated in the UK.

“It’s vital that more organisations are alert to this problem and publicly report their anti-slavery actions using better-quality disclosures that are meaningful and comparable for stakeholders and act as a driver to improved performance.  

“The UK Government must act promptly and implement the recommendations from the review team. It needs to take the lead and show its commitment to doing more to help stamp out this abhorrent issue.”

Under the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, commercial organisations with a turnover of £36m or more must produce a statement each financial year, showing what steps they have taken to make sure there is no modern slavery in their business and supply chain.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously acknowledged that more needs to be done.

In brief, some of the review’s recommendations include:

  • Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act (transparency in supply chains) should be extended to the public sector
  • The six areas set out in the Modern Slavery Act as those an organisation’s statement may cover should become mandatory
  • Statements should include the steps that organisations intend to take in the future
  • Government should strengthen its procurement processes so that non-compliant companies are not eligible for public contracts
  • There should be a central Government-run repository, which should be easily accessible to the public and free of charge
  • The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner should monitor compliance
  • Businesses should have a named, designated board member who is personally accountable for the production of the statement
  • The consequences of a failure to fulfil the statement reporting requirements should extend to directors’ disqualification