News story

New duty puts onus on big businesses to improve transparency in supply chains

Karen Bradley announces legislation requiring businesses to publicly state what they are doing to keep slavery out of their supply chains.

Minister Karen Bradley

Big businesses will in future have to publicly state each year what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free, the Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, Karen Bradley, has announced.

The Transparency in Supply Chain duty goes further than any similar legislation in the world by applying to all commercial organisations which carry out business in the UK and which have a total annual turnover above £36 million.

To run alongside the provision, Karen Bradley also announced the publication of a statutory guidance document which sets out what businesses must do to comply with the legislation.

Speaking at an event in Westminster, the minister talked about the significance of the new duty and thanked industry figures for their collaboration, which led to the publication of the guidance document.

Karen Bradley said:

Modern slavery is a despicable crime which exploits the most vulnerable in our society. The government has introduced harsher penalties and better protections for victims through the landmark Modern Slavery Act.

The duty will mean that major businesses will, for the first time, be expected to be transparent about the action they are taking to address modern slavery in their global supply chains. Consumers, businesses and investors will now have valuable information about the companies they are supporting — and shoppers can make more informed decisions at the checkout.

Businesses risk damaging their reputation, or their bottom line, if they don’t take action to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.

The new duty requires businesses to make a statement setting out what steps they have taken to ensure modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chains or alternatively to state they are taking no action. They must now place a link to their statement in a prominent place on the homepage of their website, or provide a hard copy within 30 days where one is requested in writing if they do not have a website.

It is estimated that the measure will require around 17,000 businesses that operate in the United Kingdom to make a statement every year.

Representatives from industry also spoke about the importance of the new measure at today’s event in Westminster.

Published 29 October 2015