Firms including Ocado, Marks & Spencer and the Co-op have signed a statement calling on the UK government to establish a single state-owned repository of modern slavery statements.
The joint statement, drawn up by Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland and signed by 35 organisations, says compliance with the Modern Slavery Act’s (MSA) reporting requirement has been “weak”.
“A central registry is considered an essential component to improving this, enabling better scrutiny over compliance and making it clear to businesses that Section 54 is a legal requirement, not a discretionary choice,” said the statement.
Under Section 54 of the MSA firms with a turnover of more than £36m must produce statements signed by a director, approved by the board and linked from the company’s homepage.
Among the signatories are the British Retail Consortium, the TUC, Clarks and various NGOs.
Hyland said: “Both the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Public Accounts Committee have noted the lack of such a registry is negative to the aims of the legislation.
“It is time for government to resolve this and ensure the Modern Slavery Act delivers global leadership through transparency of businesses and their supply chains in the fight against slavery.
“Businesses free from modern slavery must be the norm, something I believe everyone agrees. Therefore flouting of this legal requirement can no longer be tolerated and by looking the other way or failing to act, those in leadership roles may themselves become complicit.”
Separately, CIPS is among a number of organisations and building firms to have signed up to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority’s Construction Protocol. Signatories agree to work in partnership and share information to raise awareness and prevent exploitation.
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