Big businesses will have to publicly state each year what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free, Home Office Minister Karen Bradley announced today.
The measure is to be included in the Modern Slavery Bill, currently going through Parliament, and goes further than any similar legislation in the world by applying to businesses regardless of the nature of a company or what it supplies.
The need for action is underlined today by a new report published by The Salvation Army which shows the number of victims referred to them for support has risen by 62%. Meanwhile, cases of labour exploitation have overtaken sexual exploitation demonstrating the clear need for this pioneering legislation.
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.
There are already many companies showing a lead and taking action. Greater transparency will give customers, campaigners and shareholders the information they need to hold all big business to account while also supporting companies to do the right thing.
A consultation will be held to set the exact threshold for the size of business to ensure the system is both fair and robust. Statutory guidance will also be produced setting out the kinds of information that might be disclosed to help companies comply.
There are similar transparency requirements in California but they only apply to businesses producing goods for sale. The duty of disclosure announced today will apply regardless of the nature of the company or what it supplies, whether goods or services.