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One in three UK businesses are flouting Modern Slavery legislation

Staff Writer |
A third (34%) of organisations required by law to complete a statement in compliance with the Modern Slavery Act have failed to do so.

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This is according to a new survey from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

The survey of 1,288 supply chain professionals found that 37% of supply chains managers subject to the Act’s remit admitted to not even having read the government guidance on Modern Slavery.

The Modern Slavery Act requires all businesses that operate within the UK and with a turnover of more than £36m to produce a yearly statement outlining the actions they have taken to combat slavery in their supply chains. Currently, there are no punitive consequences for non-compliance.

Even more alarming are the figures relating to foreign businesses who conduct business in the UK and are therefore also required to complete a statement: 60% have failed to do so. Again there are no consequences for non-compliance.

The CIPS survey revealed that a tenth* of UK supply chain managers admitted having found evidence of modern slavery in their supply chains since the Act, compared with 6% who had found it before the Act was introduced.

The lack of engagement with the modern slavery statement has resulted in a large proportion of businesses having few or no policies in place to tackle the issue.

Only 45% of organisations have provided any training to their staff to help them spot modern slavery, while just 42% have mapped their supply chains to better understand their risks.

As a result, only 6% of supply chain managers under the Act’s remit are absolutely certain there is no slavery in their supply chain.

There are no legal consequences for a business which does not complete a statement, and the survey reveals that the industry does acknowledge that further legislative pressure is needed to goad them into action.

Less than half of supply chain managers who are under the Act’s remit think it goes far enough, with more than half calling for fines for businesses who fail to comply with the Act.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed called for the Act to be extended to organisations with a turnover of less than £36 million.

However, the increased attention placed on modern slavery does seem to have raised awareness among supply chain professionals about how to deal with this scourge.

In 2015,52% of UK supply chain managers said they would not know what to do if they found modern slavery in their supply chains, compared to just 17% today.

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