PwC comments on the Modern Slavery Act as first deadline for business looms

Published at 09:52 AM on 22 September 2016

Following Theresa May’s call for international action to stamp out modern slavery, Chris Cartmell, solicitor at PwC Legal, comments on the requirement for UK business:  

“The introduction of the Modern Slavery Act almost a year ago requires an estimated 12,000 businesses with operations in the UK, and an annual turnover of at least £36 million, to disclose what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are free of slave labour. Businesses with a financial year end of March 2016 are encouraged to publish a statement by the end of this month and whilst that deadline has not yet passed, companies who have already made a statement have been criticised by lobbyists for the content and quality of statements.  

“It is clear that companies are uncertain how much detail their modern slavery statement should include and, in many cases, do not follow the Home Office’s framework for reporting. Many have adopted a phased approach, for example, only considering suppliers that they source from directly, with a view to building up their activities over the coming years. Whilst it is not expected companies will have a fully comprehensive strategy in year one, there is a reputational risk with being perceived to be doing the bare minimum. This could result in a loss of sales, damage to shareholder confidence and negative employee engagement. 

“This is a complex topic and companies still need time to get to grips with it. It is important that modern slavery is not seen purely as a compliance issue as this can constrain the extent to which companies can eradicate slavery in their operations and supply chains. Instead companies should address the broader value creation opportunities for their business and be able to demonstrate positive steps to stakeholders.”  

ENDS 

For more information please contact Nicola Thorogood, [email protected] / 020 7804 6007


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