Government launches consultation on UK supply chain anti-slavery legislation

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
12 February 2015

The UK government has launched a consultation into which businesses will be subject to the transparent supply chain provisions of impending anti-slavery legislation.

The document said the government position was that the clause in the Modern Slavery Bill, which will require businesses to disclose what they have done to ensure there is no slavery in their supply chain, should apply to “larger” businesses. The government’s intention is for the bill to become law before the end of this Parliament.

“We think that this measure should apply to those businesses best placed to influence conduct in the sector they cover. Large businesses are more likely to have the necessary purchasing power and influence to create effective change within a supply chain, as suppliers will be more concerned about retaining their business,” it said.

Although the consultation makes no recommendation for a threshold of total turnover that would catch companies, it set out four examples with estimates of businesses that would be covered. A threshold of £36 million annual turnover – which determines a ‘large’ company in the Companies Act – would cover 12,259 UK companies. A £250 million figure would cover 2,554. £500 million would catch 1,409 firms, and 724 would exceed the threshold of £1 billion.

“Placing this responsibility on larger businesses will help to push responsible practices down through the supply chain, including to smaller businesses not directly covered by this legislation, if they act as suppliers to larger businesses that need to comply,” it said. “Whereas, setting the threshold too low could place greater responsibility on businesses further down the supply chain, with fewer resources to undertake due diligence and less capacity to effect change.”

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 7 May, and responses can be made online via the Home Office website.

“I am determined to ensure that UK supply chains are not being infiltrated by modern slavery. Supply chains are often extremely long, complex and cross international borders. Even services provided in the UK can involve outsourced labour from across the globe,” said minister for modern slavery and organised crime Karen Bradley.

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