As of 1 January 2019, new reporting requirements have been introduced for large companies operating Australian under the ‘Modern Slavery Act 2018’.
Reporting obligations are mandatory and relate to the steps taken by the company to respond to the risk of modern slavery in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity and its controlled entities.
Reports are kept by the Minister in a public repository known as the Modern Slavery Statements Register. Statements on the register may be accessed by the public, free of charge.
The term 'modern slavery' refers to any situations of exploitation where a person cannot refuse or leave work because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception. The Australian regime defines modern slavery to incorporate conduct that would constitute an offence under existing human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offence provisions set out in Divisions 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.
Many Australian businesses may be unaware of the risk that they have slavery in their business or supply chains. Statistically, the incidence of modern slavery within Australia appears to be relatively low, but the concern is that the statistics reflect a low level of awareness of the issues, and the actual incidence may be much higher, both domestically and overseas.
What Companies Need to Know
The Act requires organisations with annual turnover over $100M to prepare and publicly release “modern slavery statements”, approved by the board of directors (or equivalent) and signed by an individual director. Entities in New South Wales will be obliged to release a “modern slavery statement” under the NSW Act if they have a turnover of $50 million.
The “modern slavery statements” will disclose how their operations and supply chains could contribute to modern slavery risks and explain how entities are managing and minimising these risks – including assessment of effectiveness.
It is crucial that reporting entities begin reviewing their supply chains and collecting data in preparation for their statements. The first statements will need to be submitted in 2020.
For more information and to view the Act, go to https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018A00153
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