Modern Slavery Act 2015 – and your business

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 will have an impact on many UK businesses. Retailers in particular will need to prove that they are doing all they can to ensure that they only user suppliers and factories who are compliant with standards of welfare and employment conditions for their workers.

The newly appointed Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland OBE said: “A key focus must also be on more effective measures to prevent these crimes from ever occurring in the first place. I aim to achieve this through working closely with communities across the UK as well driving more intelligent upstream activity in the source countries from where large numbers of women, men and children are trafficked to this country.”

Many retailers have already taken steps to protect the rights of their suppliers’ workers and employees and others are following suit. The route to compliance with the Act (and other areas of compliance) involves a number of steps:

  • The culture at senior level to resolve issues found during audits
  • A set of guidelines against which vendors will be audited
  • A mechanism to capture the data from audits for reporting
  • The audits
  • A process and mechanism for addressing issues found during audits

This won’t be straightforward, particularly for those with many levels to their supply chains. And it will be even less straightforward if the mechanisms in place to manage audits and report on them are labour-intensive, for example the use of individual spreadsheets rather than a central database such as Supplier Collaborator.

I think that the key to successfully managing compliance will be the way that retailers address the issues identified in audits so that they aren’t just going through the motions. Completed audits are not the end result of compliance programmes – compliance itself is. MCL is exploring working with third parties whose focus is the following up on action plans identified after audits.

If you haven’t yet read the Government article about the law change it’s here.

And if you’d like to see how Supplier Collaborator has been set up to support retailers in their compliance with the Modern Slavery Act contact us at