Government announces plans to review the Modern Slavery Act 2015

The government has outlined plans to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA).  The Act was originally implemented to prohibit all forms of modern slavery including human trafficking and to protect victims.

The review comes in response to The Economic and Social Costs of Modern Slavery report which claims modern slavery costs the UK up to £4.3bn a year.  It outlined that each modern slavery case is estimated to cost approximately £330k per annum due to the cost of support, payment for lost earnings and the physical and emotional harm done to the individuals. The report goes on to say that the crime of modern slavery is second only to homicide in terms of the damage it causes to its victims and society. It concludes by emphasizing the importance of the role that the employers can play in tackling this issue by helping to identify victims of modern slavery in their supply chains and other areas they interact with.

Currently, the MSA requires organisations with an annual turnover of over £36m to produce an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. The statement must outline the steps that the organisation has taken to ensure slavery is not taking place in any of its supply chains or confirm that they have taken no action towards this. Whilst confirmation of no action can result in negative press for employers, there are currently no statutory sanctions in place. The expected review will consider how to ensure further compliance with this alongside improving the quality of statements that are currently being produced.  It will focus on strengthening the UK’s understanding of modern slavery offences, with the aim of accelerating progress for its abolishment. It will also evaluate steps that can be taken to strengthen existing legislation on minimising the risk of goods and services within the UK being produced through forced labour.  The review is due to be submitted to the Home Secretary by March 2019.

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