Most company statements published to meet the requirements of the UK Modern Slavery Act are not compliant.
Analysis by the CORE Coalition and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre found despite “a welcome flurry” of early compliance reports by UK companies the bulk fail to contain the mandatory information required by the act.
The two corporate accountability groups say further regulation may be required to enforce better reporting, though guidance is now available on how companies can comply with the act.
The act, which is estimated to apply to at least 12,000 UK companies with a turnover of £36m, requires firms to report on efforts to ensure slavery and trafficking are not taking place in their supply chains and businesses.
Companies must make a statement approved by the board and signed by a company director on the homepage of the company’s website.
Of 75 statements analysed, only 22 were both signed by a director and available from a link on the company’s website homepage.
33 were not signed by a director, and the same number did not feature a link to the statement from their website homepage.
Only nine statements covered the six areas of which information which are recommended to be included in the statement. These include organisational structure, company policies and due diligence.
However the groups praised “stronger statements by leading companies that already point to better practice in the future”.
This included Intel’s description of how it engages with major suppliers to create a risk profile which includes slavery and human trafficking.
The company then works with suppliers to build their capacity to identify and prevent these risks from occurring.
Ford, meanwhile, explained how it assesses risk by looking at geography, commodity type and quality of supplier performance.
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has created a central registry to allow comparison and benchmarking of companies’ policy.
The organisation said the registry would generate a ‘race to the top’ between companies, allow investors to assess company risk and help consumers and activists reward leading companies.
It would also “press laggards” into action, it said.
Marilyn Croser, director of the CORE Coalition, said: “It’s clear that there is widespread misunderstanding among business about what’s required... If a pattern of non-compliance emerges, government must start taking enforcement action against companies.”