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Modern Slavery Act 2015 independent review – final report

18/06/2019

On 22 May 2019, the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 published its final cumulative report (“Final Report”). The Final Report is a summary of each of the previous four interim reports and sets out each one of the 80 recommendations contained in those reports, providing some very helpful commentary on a number of issues identified over the course of the review.

Of those issues, the following are significant:

  • The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) should change its name to reflect the work that it does.
  • Although out of scope for the review, as the Home Office is currently in the process of reforming the NRM, it is clear that significant reform of it is required.
  • Stakeholders have expressed widespread concern at the lack of government-led post-NRM support for victims of modern slavery who have obtained a positive conclusive grounds decision.
  • The current law of prostitution may be a weak link in the fight against traffickers involved in sexual exploitation.

The next step for this review is for the government to respond to the Final Report. Of real significance to businesses will be the government’s response to the following recommendations:

  • That the making of modern slavery statements should be mandatory.
  • That companies should not be able to state that they have taken no steps to address modern slavery in their supply chains, as currently permitted.
  • That there should be a central repository for modern slavery statements.
  • That sanctions for non-compliance should be strengthened and the government should bring forward proposals for the creation of an enforcement body in relation to non-compliant companies.
  • That the failure to make a statement or to act when instances of slavery are found should be an offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.  

Nick Rowe, head of Lodders’ Employment Law team, comments as follows:

The government’s response to the recommendations made in the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 will be very interesting; especially in respect of enforcement, how that might be implemented in practice and how all of this is going to be resourced. Watch this space!”

Lodders’ team of employment solicitors offer accurate, focused and solution-based legal advice to a wide range of clients. We have forged an excellent reputation for advising SME’s, publicly owned companies, charities and other bodies; as well as senior employees and stakeholders in respect of all manner of employment and commercial related issues.

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To find out more about this article, please contact Nick Rowe on 01242 229096 or via email.