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How to Tackle Modern Slavery in Supply Chains

How to Tackle Modern Slavery in Supply Chains


How to Tackle Modern Slavery in Supply Chains

Over 21 million people are victims of modern slavery across the world with children representing a quarter of all victims of forced labour, while forced labour in the private economy generates $150 billion in illegal profits each year.


Writing in The Telegraph newspaper in 2016 in her first article as Prime Minister Theresa May stated that ‘this is the great human rights issue of our time.’

Why should businesses care about modern slavery?

Section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act requires commercial organisations supplying goods or services with an annual turnover in excess of £36 million to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation.


There are two legal requirements for companies:

1) Statements must be published on the organisation’s UK website with a link in a prominent place on the UK home page.

2) Companies must ensure that the statement is approved by the board of directors and signed by a director.


In addition, the Modern Slavery Act suggests statements include information on;

  • Organisational structure and business supply chains
  • Slavery and human trafficking policies
  • Due diligence processes
  • Risk assessment and actions to address modern slavery risks
  • Effectiveness in tackling modern slavery
  • Training about slavery and human trafficking

How can businesses tackle modern slavery?

As employers and providers of goods and services, businesses can help lead the fight against human trafficking and slavery. Companies and employers are well placed to detect and prevent exploitation in their own operations and in the communities where they operate, as well as to influence and work together with suppliers and business partners and to raise labour standards within their industries.


To meet their responsibilities, companies should have an honest and transparent view of their supply chains. Companies should aim to work jointly with civil society and other stakeholders, including employers, suppliers and investors, to address risks.


For some organisations the reporting requirement will be a challenge, while hiding the problem of slavery will do nothing to change the status quo. Where risks do exist, consumers and wider civil society would prefer companies to be open about what they have found and set out what they are doing to end slavery.

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