The Final Report of the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was laid in Parliament on Wednesday 22 May by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid. The report has also been published on gov.uk and will be uploaded onto the Review’s independent website.
IEMA welcomes the findings of the final report which reflect the recommendations it submitted to the Secretariat of this Independent Review back in October 2018.
IEMA’s recommendations drew upon a member survey that it carried out in collaboration with the participants of the Modern Slavery and Ethical Labour in Construction Leadership Symposium 2018,the 2018 Annual UK Top 100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencer's Index and the members of the Higher Education Procurement Association.
Commenting on the publication of the report, IEMA Policy & Engagement Lead Marc Jourdan said:
“Modern slavery is one of the biggest problems faced by society today. The Modern Slavery Act 2015, as the first piece of legislation to tackle this issue head on, set a precedent for other countries such as Australia to follow suit”.
Pointing to the findings revealed by IEMA’s membership survey he stated: “The engagement we have carried out with our members to support this review has shown that the legislation needs to keep up with the ongoing threat that modern slavery represents. This is particularly important as the Report states that 40% of eligible companies are not complying with the legislation at all. To help stop this, IEMA has called for making Government and other public authorities accountable, increasing the monitoring powers of the Commissioner and ensuring that sanctions such as fine against non-compliant businesses are increased”.
The headlines points which are reflected in the final report and mirror IEMA’s recommendations in two key areas, are listed below.
On the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner:
- A more transparent recruitment process should be followed, that involves a pre-appointment hearing with a Parliamentary Select Committee;
- The Commissioner should advise the Government on measures to tackle modern slavery scrutinise but also take on stronger monitoring powers by holding government it and its agencies to account on their performance;
On Transparency in Supply Chains:
- The Modern Slavery Act should mandate the areas that companies are expected to report on;
- Government should set up a central repository to which companies are required to upload their statements and which should be easily accessible to the public, free of charge;
- Government should extend section 54 requirements to the public sector and strengthen its public procurement processes;
- the Companies Act 2006 should be amended to include a requirement for companies to refer to their modern slavery statement in their annual reports;
- Failure to fulfil modern slavery statement reporting requirements or to act when instances of slavery are found should be an offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986;
- Government should make the necessary legislative provisions to strengthen its approach to tackling non-compliance [with section 54 of the Act], adopting a gradual approach: initial warnings, fines (as a percentage of turnover), court summons and directors’ disqualification.
- Government should bring forward proposals to set up or assign an enforcement body to impose sanctions on non-compliant companies.
IEMA led a webinar on the interim review findings in April with the participation of Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, an official Expert Adviser for the Review who in turn consulted a wide range of business stakeholder groups to collect their views. The session also benefitted from remarks by Paul Gerrard (FIEMA), Policy and Campaigns Director at The Co-op and one of the panel of experts who supported IEMA’s final written submission to the Modern Slavery Act Review Secretariat. Paul discussed the results of the IEMA survey, how these compared to the interim reports and what further reforms of the Modern Slavery Act could be envisaged.
The Home Secretary has issued a Written Ministerial Statement alongside the review, which sets out that the Government is carefully considering the 80 recommendations made by the Review and is committed to publishing a formal response this summer.
In the meantime, should you wish to participate in further engagement activities around the topic of Modern Slavery or social sustainability then please contact Marc on [email protected].
Posted on 24th May 2019
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