Home News UK Government acts to tackle scourge of modern slavery in business supply chains

UK Government acts to tackle scourge of modern slavery in business supply chains

by Brian Sims
Large companies are being urged to ensure modern slavery doesn’t have a place in business

Large companies are being urged to ensure modern slavery doesn’t have a place in business

Karen Bradley – the Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime – has announced the launch of a consultation with businesses designed to encourage transparency in supply chains. Shoppers may be hunting for a bargain but, unbeknown to them, the cheap products they find could be the result of modern slavery.

Of the 35 million people estimated by the Global Slavery Index to be enslaved worldwide, the majority are victims of exploitation in activities such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture.

Under the Modern Slavery Bill, large companies will for the first time have a legal duty to disclose to the public the steps they’ve taken to ensure modern slavery does not have a place in their business – from the shop floor to the factory floor, anywhere in the world.

This move is the latest measure introduced by the Government to strengthen the landmark provision in the Modern Slavery Bill.

“I’m determined to ensure that UK supply chains are not being infiltrated by modern slavery,” explained Karen Bradley. “Supply chains are often extremely long and complex and cross international borders. Even services provided in the UK can involve outsourced labour from across the globe.”

Bradley continued: “The consultation provides interested parties with the opportunity to have their say on what size of business this new requirement should apply to and what the accompanying statutory guidance for businesses should cover. The Government wants to gather a wide range of evidence such that it can determine a size threshold that’s fair, workable and robust. This world-leading measure goes further than any similar legislation in other countries by applying to businesses regardless of the nature of a company or what it supplies.”

Supply chain transparency

David Camp – programme co-ordinator for the Stronger Together initiative, which works with businesses to tackle labour exploitation- commented: “We welcome this consultation. Responsible businesses, such as the Stronger Together project sponsors, called for a supply chain transparency element within the Modern Slavery Bill and we’re pleased the Government has listened.”

Karen Bradley MP

Karen Bradley MP

He continued: “Stronger Together equips businesses with pragmatic guidance and free resources designed to tackle slavery and hidden exploitation in supply chains. In the years ahead, businesses will play a fundamental role in eliminating global slavery. This consultation is an important building block in that process, and we commend businesses to respond.”

The Modern Slavery Bill will be among the first Acts specifically tackling modern slavery in the world. The Bill is now being scrutinised by Parliament with the intention that it’s made law before the General Election.

The Bill will give law enforcement the tools to tackle modern slavery, ensure that perpetrators can receive suitably severe sentences for these appalling crimes, introduce an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, enhance support and protection for victims and encourage businesses to do more in helping to eliminate modern slavery from their global supply chains.

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