Yesterday the UK’s Salvation Army published a report which revealed a 62 per cent rise in the number of victims of slavery that it has been called on to support in the past year. Not surprisingly, the government now wants large companies to make an annual statement on the action they have taken to ensure that their supply chains are slavery free.
The Salvation Army manages the government’s Adult Human Trafficking Victim Care and Coordination contract. Its report is not just shocking reading – it’s one of the factors driving the government’s Modern Slavery Bill which is currently going through parliament.
Karen Bradley, minister for modern slavery and organised crime, said: “The fact that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history is shameful. We all have a responsibility to stamp out this evil trade and this world leading measure calls on business to play their part.”
The move by the British government follows the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act which came into force in 2012. This targets supply chains for tangible goods and tasks companies with addressing human trafficking and slavery in their supply chains.
Under the British government proposals the duty of disclosure will apply regardless of the nature of the company or what it supplies, whether goods or services.
The California law covers all companies with worldwide sales of more than $100m and sales of $500,000+ in California.
In the UK, a consultation is planned to set the exact threshold for the size of business. Statutory guidance will also be produced setting out the kinds of information that might be disclosed to help companies comply.
One of the results of this is that supply chain visibility is going to become even more critical. Large companies could in future find themselves being held to account for activities far back in their supply chains where they currently have no visibility. That could prove to be a huge challenge.
Malory Davies FCILT,