The Modern Slavery Act – is there any real progress?

The International Labour Organisation, ILO, claims that 90% of the estimated 20.9m global victims of forced labour are exploited by enterprises and private individuals. The prevalence of the issue means that inadequate due diligence will expose companies to severe legal, reputational and commercial risks if modern slavery is revealed within the business/supply chain. Modern slavery and the trafficking of people is an issue that stakeholders around the world are increasingly focused on and a particularly pertinent issue for the Food & Drink sector with its complex, global supply chains.

There is a lot of information available on the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act and good general awareness but has there been any real progress? 

Some recent Modern Slavery Act statistics:

  • 75 company statements on the UK Modern Slavery Act published to date
  • Only 22 of these meet minimum legal requirements
  • Only 9 meet minimum legal requirements AND report on all criteria suggested by the Act Analysis reveals that the majority of company statements published to date do not yet comply with the Act’s requirements: companies must make a statement approved by the Board and signed by a company director (or equivalent) available on the homepage of the company’s website.
  • While there are no legal requirements on the content of the statement, the legislation suggests six areas on which information may be included, such as organisational structure, company policies and due diligence; nineteen statements published so far address all these points. Critically, only 9 statements met the minimum requirements and covered the six suggested areas. 

The List of companies who have published a statement already is available.

Regarding human rights reporting more widely, just a few months after the launch of the UNGP Reporting Framework (Feb 2015), there are a few early adopters of the Reporting Framework. These include big players in the Food & Drink Sector such as Unilever, Nestle, M&S, and from other sectors such as ABN AMRO, Ericsson, H&M and Newmont.

See DNV GL’s webpage link to our Modern Slavery Act service offer.

In November 2016 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), the first-ever ranking of the world's largest publicly listed companies on their human rights performance, will release the results of a pilot benchmark of 100 leading entities from the extractive, agricultural and apparel sectors.