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Freefall in corporate commitment to fight modern slavery

  • Published on
    April 3, 2023
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor
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The U.K.’s requirement for companies to submit modern slavery statements is being ignored. Therefore the government is expected to demand compulsory reporting in a new parliamentary bill to tackle corporate commitment to end modern slavery.

Less than a third of qualifying companies reported on anti-slavery measures within their supply chains in 2022 according to the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). At 8,074 statements, this represents almost half the number of reports submitted to the government registry in 2021.

Voluntary rules ignored

Transparency rules are being disregarded; for instance, almost 25% of the 2022 statements lacked fundamental information as set out under section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Ministers are being urged to enforce these rules.

David Taylor, CIPS chief operating officer, told The Guardian:

“It is an open secret that vulnerable adults and children are exploited every day to produce the goods and services we consume.

“Organizations are facing enormous pressures across their supply chains and, in these circumstances, it may be tempting to turn a blind eye to modern slavery and prioritize other challenges.”

The U.K. Modern Slavery Act dictates that companies with an annual gross revenue of £36 million (US$ 45 million) and above should publish a statement clearly defining their strategies for tackling slavery in supply chains. It is “strongly encouraged”, though not compulsory, for companies to report to the Home Office’s registry for modern slavery statements.

Modern slavery risk highest in U.K.

Registry data shows companies point to the U.K. as the most likely hub for modern slavery abuses in their supply chains. China came second with 18% and India third, with less than 10%.

Despite the companies having a six-month grace period to produce 2022 statements, it is clear that corporate compliance will only come with government-imposed mandatory requirements to ensure that the statements are submitted.

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