The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 was introduced to address the risk of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of Australian organisations.
Modern slavery can occur in every industry and sector and describes situations where offenders use coercion, threats or deception to exploit victims and undermine their freedom. In business it may include forced labour, particularly of children and women, trafficking of people and debt bondage. It’s estimated there are over 40 million people in modern slavery conditions worldwide.
The Modern Slavery Act 2018 is now in force and requires larger businesses and other entities to prepare an annual Modern Slavery Statement, detailing the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions taken to address those risks.
The Act applies to entities that have consolidated revenue of at least $100 million for the relevant reporting period and is an Australian entity or carries on business in Australia. It applies to a wide range of entities, including companies, superannuation funds, not-for-profit entities and trusts.
Although smaller businesses are not required to submit Modern Slavery Statements they may receive questionnaires or requests if they sit within a larger organisation’s supply chain.
The Modern Slavery Statements are publicly available on the Modern Slavery Statements Register.
Statement information required
A Modern Slavery Statement must set out the reporting entity’s actions to assess and address modern slavery risks in their global operations and supply chains. The criteria include:
- Name of the reporting entity
- Structure, operations and supply chains of the reporting entity
- Risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity, and any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls
- Actions taken by the reporting entity and any entity that it owns or controls, to assess and address those risks, including due diligence and remediation processes
- How the reporting entity assesses the effectiveness of such actions
- A description of the process of consultation with:
- any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls; and
- in the case of a reporting entity covered by a statement under section 14, the entity giving the statement
- Include any other information that the reporting entity, or the entity giving the statement, considers relevant.
When are Modern Slavery Statements due?
Entities are required to submit Modern Slavery Statements within six months after the end of their reporting periods. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a three-month extension has been provided (please refer the table below).
There are currently no penalties for non-compliance with the Act and the failure to submit a Modern Slavery Statement. However, to strengthen compliance rates, the government may request an explanation for an entity’s failure to comply or publicly name the entity.
While the Modern Slavery Act 2018 is a Commonwealth Act, NSW has passed its own Modern Slavery Act 2018. This Act is yet to commence.
Boards, directors and executive management are required to understand the Modern Slavery compliance and reporting obligations and how their business is exposed to modern slavery risks.