Half of firms 'have not produced slavery reports'

posted by Francis Churchill
19 September 2017

More than half of UK companies that have had 12 months to publish their modern slavery statements have not yet done so, according to figures released by TISCreport.

The non-profit organisation, which collects data on slavery statements, estimates 50.6% of UK companies have not yet done so. 

Jaya Chakrabarti, CEO of TISCreport, said: “I should say when we say we think they’re overdue, this is because we haven’t found their statements and we have looked as hard as we can. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”

However, she added that her team has tried to contact every company it has identified as not having yet published a report.

“To this point in September, 2,868 have had 12 months or more and are now potentially overdue.

“49.4% of those do have statements, so that means that 50.6% of companies who have not yet reported and are probably not aware they should be reporting at this point,” she said.

Under the Modern Slavery Act, all companies with a UK footprint and an annual turnover of more than £36m are required to produce annual reports outlining what they are doing to identify and tackle modern slavery in their supply chains.

The figure was announced at an event held in Parliament to mark the first year of the TISCreport’s work and to report on its progress. 

At the event, Chakrabarti estimated that around 80,000 companies worldwide are required to produced modern slavery statements under the law, as it applies to all companies operating in the UK. Only 26,000 of the these are UK based, she said.

So far a total 5,272 UK organisations with a turnover of more than £36m, or 27.8%, have complied this year, however this does not mean the others are overdue.

Of the companies that have submitted statements, Chakrabarti said there had been “50 shades of compliance”.

Of these, she added, there were several identifiable gradients of compliance including the “roving statement” that changes location, statements that firms have updated to leave out problematic areas, the “incognito statement” that is not labelled, statements hidden in privacy or CSR policies and statements that are not linked on the firm's homepage.

“The awareness is low, so we’re not suggesting that all of those are deliberately bad,” she said.

James Ewins, the barrister who helped to draft the modern slavery statement, told SM that failure to file a statement makes a business liable to a sanction from the home secretary, although so far there have been no examples of this happening.

“In reality, censure will come from the public at large, fuelled by academic or other independent analysis and assessments of a report’s contents," he said.

Ewins added there were “murmurings” philanthropists were considering funding litigation as test cases against non-compliant firms.

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