Are you ready for a Modern Slavery Act audit?
Quite possibly, your business’s website carries a Modern Slavery Statement. For huge numbers of businesses with a turnover of £36m or more, such a statement is a legal requirement. And by now, almost four years after the Modern Slavery Act became law, many of us have become accustomed to seeing such statements.
But compliance with the Act calls for more than just the publication of a statement on a website. And the government is now taking steps to establish whether businesses’ compliance embraces all that it should.
Simply put, it is in the process of writing to 17,000 companies, and telling them that it intends to audit their compliance. If audited, could your business demonstrate a satisfactory level of compliance?
Here at The Legal Director, we would counsel caution before assuming that the answer is ‘yes’.
Modern-day slavery remains a modern-day problem. As yet another high-profile prosecution attests, the suspicion remains that many thousands of people—both overseas and in the UK—are appallingly exploited.
Home Office statistics, for example, have estimated that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, and a further 45 million estimated victims around the world.
And the premise of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 is that significant numbers of those victims could be working in the supply chains of British companies, both here and abroad.
This is why the Modern Slavery Act requires businesses to publish an annual anti-slavery and human trafficking statement, laying out the steps that they are taking to identify and stamp out any abusive labour practices within their supply chains and to seek continuous improvement in their approach. Statements cannot remain frozen in time.
Named and shamed
To carry out its audit, the government has put the work out to tender. So far as we are aware, no decision has yet been taken on awarding the contract, and the precise timing of the audit is still unclear.
Time to relax? We would suggest not. If businesses have not complied with the Act, then they may be ‘named and shamed’, with an obvious risk of reputational damage. The worst cases of non-compliance could even result in exclusion from public contract work.
So far from relaxing, we would suggest that businesses use the intervening period to ensure that their compliance is water-tight. A suggestion that has been given added impetus by the publication of an official Independent Review of the Act, to which the Government is responding.
Its key recommendations? That businesses should no longer be permitted to report not having taken any steps towards investigating and eliminating modern slavery, and that non-compliance could result in directors being disqualified. Non-compliance is not therefore, in our opinion, a sensible risk decision.
How to prepare
Where to start your audit preparations? Here at The Legal Director, we see a number of obvious points of vulnerability:
- Businesses that don’t have a Modern Slavery Statement
- Statements that have not been approved by the board
- Statements that have not been signed by a director
- Statements that don’t appear as a prominent link on the website’s home page
- Statements that have not been updated for each financial year, within six months of the financial year end
At the very least, start there.
But it is also prudent to go further. Businesses may want to be able to demonstrate that they have drafted supply contracts that contain explicit anti-slavery clauses and be able to demonstrate that supplier audits and qualification processes contain anti-slavery provisions.
As ever, we at The Legal Director can help, by providing sensible, business-oriented guidance.
We are used to working with businesses to review their exposure to modern slavery in the supply chain, providing advice on removing or reducing risk, drafting the required statements, and demonstrating year-on-year anti-slavery progress.
So don’t wait to be audited—pick up the phone, or email email@example.com
Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 by Warren RylandTweet
Other Articles In This Category
- Blunt talking from the marathon finish line
At the end of April, I ran the 2019 London Marathon. I’d set myself a target of finishing in under four hours—and just managed it. My time: 3... read more
14th of May 2019 by Warren Ryland
- Can your business survive Tyson's 'punch in the face'?
“Everyone has a plan—until they get punched in the face,” boxing champion Mike Tyson famously observed. Here at The Legal Director, we recognise... read more
1st of April 2019 by Warren Ryland
- Selling your business: getting the price you deserve
Take two businesses, of comparable size, revenues, and profitability. Why would one sell more quickly than the other—and for considerably more money? Here at... read more
26th of February 2019 by Warren Ryland
- IR35 for the private sector: six key questions answered
As we warned in our March 2018 blog, there was always a high probability that the IR35 reforms the government introduced to the public sector in April 2017 would be... read more
18th of January 2019 by Warren Ryland
- The hidden dangers of Christmas parties
It’s the season for Christmas parties. And, as an employer, you may well be holding one for your staff—a Christmas party is, after all, a popular way of... read more
3rd of December 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Managing external legal providers: 3 pointers to a better outcome
In an earlier blog, we looked at how best to instruct external legal providers—providers such as barristers, solicitors, or legal consultants. Why? Because... read more
5th of November 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Can your staff verbally modify your contracts?
It’s a common enough scenario. You have a contract with one of your key suppliers, and you—or one of your staff—agree over the phone with... read more
20th of October 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Funding Fair: from concept to commercial reality
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding "Funding Fair - Funding for Deep Technology: from concept to commercial reality" on... read more
19th of October 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Funding your business: debt vs equity
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding workshop on Wednesday 3 October from 12:00-13:30 hrs or 17:00-18:30 hrs. This... read more
4th of September 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Exit Planning and Growth Strategy Workshop
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding workshop on Tuesday 9 October from 11:00-13:30 hrs or 14:30-17:00 hrs. This... read more
4th of September 2018 by Warren Ryland
- What does an Investor want to see in a Business Plan?
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding 90-minute workshop on Wednesday 12 September from 10:30-1230 hrs or 14:00-15:30... read more
22nd of August 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Instructing external legal resource: 5 questions to think about
Even when a business has an in-house legal team, there are times when instructing external legal resources—barristers, solicitors, or legal... read more
14th of August 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Talk to a lawyer: the ROI of legal advice
What do legal and regulatory issues cost your business each year? And - perhaps more worryingly - what is the cost of those commercial and contractual disputes that... read more
22nd of June 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Planning an Exit Strategy to sell your business?
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding workshop on Wed 4 July, where you'll be able to discuss with experts and other... read more
5th of June 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Is your business facilitating tax evasion?
Is your business facilitating tax evasion? Put like that, most of us would automatically answer ‘no’. But let’s re-phrase the question. Does your... read more
8th of May 2018 by Warren Ryland
- IR35 and the private sector: are changes on the way?
As the government considers extending to the private sector its public sector reforms of the rules relating to the engagement of contractors through so-called... read more
22nd of March 2018 by Warren Ryland
- GDPR: 3 practical questions facing businesses like yours
In just a few months—on May 25th—compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes mandatory. The biggest change to data protection... read more
1st of March 2018 by Warren Ryland
- I'd like to work from home, says an employee. Now what?
Conversations about employees working from home were once very short. In those rare instances where employees did venture to enquire about the possibility, the... read more
8th of January 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Is a domain squatter set to steal your brand?
It’s fair to say that many businesses are unprepared for the new .uk Internet domain - which is unfortunate, as from June 2019, they could find that their... read more
5th of December 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Did you negotiate your last loan agreement - or just sign on the dotted line?
For businesses wanting to grow or invest, external finance can be an attractive option: access to the funds that they need, without equity dilution or... read more
2nd of November 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Protecting the value of your newly-acquired businesses can be a challenge
Buying a business is exhilarating. Hard work, to be sure - but undeniably exciting, and with a rich sense of the opportunities that lie ahead. So perhaps... read more
2nd of October 2017 by Warren Ryland
- GDPR. The clock is ticking: a tough new take on data protection is fast approaching
With effect from 25 May 2018—in other words, less than a year away—your business is exposed to a new regulatory regime backed by hefty fines. And by... read more
6th of September 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Persons of Significant Control: important changes to reporting requirements
It’s barely a year since the introduction of the PSC regime - and already, the compliance requirement has been tightened. And at a time when many businesses... read more
23rd of June 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Avoiding conflict when forming a business: probing questions for potential partners
Every year, several hundred thousand new businesses are created. In 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics, the total was 383,000—the highest... read more
28th of April 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Is your business at risk from the Uber decision? Why your self-employed contractors could really be employees
Fuelled by companies such as ride-hailing business Uber and personal courier firm Deliveroo, the so-called ‘gig economy’ is on the rise. So much so,... read more
12th of January 2017 by Warren Ryland
- The Legal Director - Commended for Innovation in the FT Innovative European Lawyers awards
Law firm The Legal Director (TLD) has been commended in the FT Innovative European Lawyers awards, which were announced at the beginning of this month. TLD ranked... read more
28th of October 2016 by Warren Ryland
- Debt versus Equity - Financing for SMEs
The need for additional finance is often the price of success for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are looking to grow. The question that faces the... read more
14th of October 2016 by Warren Ryland
- The deceptive complexity of the Modern Slavery Act
At the end of July, Prime Minister Theresa May launched a cabinet-level government taskforce to eradicate modern slavery in the UK. It was, she said, “one of... read more
31st of August 2016 by Warren Ryland
- How our clients will benefit from the Bar Council's escrow account
Outside the narrow realms of consumer technology, there’s often an inevitable trade-off between cost and quality. In other words, you can have something at... read more
7th of July 2016 by Warren Ryland
- As the net starts to close, the Bribery Act prosecutions begin
As we have written before, the Bribery Act 2010 is a law with undoubted teeth. Fines are potentially unlimited, and custodial sentences can be up to ten... read more
1st of May 2016 by Warren Ryland
- New rules on shareholder identification are now in force
New rules on shareholder identification are now in force - and yet many businesses aren’t aware of them. Does your business have corporate or nominee... read more
12th of April 2016 by Warren Ryland
- First SRA-regulated law firm signs up to Bar Council's escrow account
PRESS RELEASE: The Legal Director has become the first law firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to sign up to the Bar Council’s... read more
31st of March 2016 by Warren Ryland
- Trade marks: the 3 biggest mistakes to avoid
Wander around a supermarket, or browse the advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and you’ll see trade marks everywhere. And it’s likely, too, that... read more
29th of February 2016 by Warren Ryland
- Avoiding flexible working's hidden pitfalls
You don’t have to look too far to see that traditional modes of employment are increasingly giving way to more flexible working arrangements. Returnee... read more
9th of November 2015 by Warren Ryland
- Are you paying your workers the right amount of holiday pay?
A recent ruling by an Employment Appeal Tribunal is set to cause many businesses a headache. Quite an expensive headache, at that. Simply put, it means that... read more
15th of July 2015 by Warren Ryland
- The Bribery Act 2010: are you running a risk of breaking the law?
To see the difficulties that businesses can get into through bribery - or even allegations of bribery - look no further than the reputational damage suffered... read more
11th of June 2015 by Warren Ryland
- It's official: "Lawyers are not cost-effective"
Imagine, for a moment, that when faced with a serious illness, significant numbers of people took no action. And of those who did take action, around... read more
20th of January 2015 by Warren Ryland
- Could a Shareholder Agreement save your business?
Here at The Legal Director, we’ve recently come across a business where the two co-founders have fallen out -- one is now leaving, in order to set up on his... read more
1st of December 2014 by Warren Ryland
- The high-fee culture that's hobbling British business
Another week, and yet another critical item in the press on the cost of obtaining corporate legal advice. And to be sure, it’s certainly a fairly open goal at... read more
11th of November 2014 by Warren Ryland
- Is crowdfunding the answer to your business's financing challenge?
As the credit crunch and ensuing recession of 2008 began to bite, lending to businesses dried up. To their shock, even long-established, profitable businesses... read more
2nd of September 2014 by Warren Ryland
- Complying with the Data Protection Act: 3 business bear-traps awaiting the unwary
Visit the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office, and there’s an interesting section entitled ‘Enforcement’. In it, the... read more
1st of September 2014 by Warren Ryland
- What might a Legal Audit reveal about your business?
When we start working with a business we assess their existing legal arrangements to determine how these can be improved and aligned with commercial objectives. We... read more
9th of July 2014 by Warren Ryland