14 Aug 2018

CU LAB: Modern slavery laws: don't leave it too late to get ready

NSW now has modern slavery laws, and the Commonwealth will soon have them too, Lauree Coci says you need to start risk assessment now, and not wait until the reporting date for your Modern Slavery statement.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.


You really need to start preparing for the content of your Modern Slavery Statements which under the Commonwealth Bill probably will be due somewhere between January to December 2020 depending on when is the end of your entity's end of financial year so under the Commonwealth Bill it's proposed that you'll have at least six months from the end of your financial year to file a Statement with the responsible Minister.  Now that seems like sometime away but there are a number of things that are going to take a bit of time, there are things that are going to be much more simple to implement and they are things like drafting the statement itself or rolling out training for your employees, coming up with some anti-slavery clauses to include in your supplier contracts and also drafting your company's anti-slavery policies and procedures and compliance mechanisms. 

That's the easy stuff, the more challenging is the risk assessment process or the due diligence process that you need to undertake of your suppliers.  The approach that you might take is to start with your tier one suppliers in high risk countries or in high risk sectors.  You should engage with them to find out what they're doing and to consider whether they are currently compliant with these anti-slavery initiatives and legislation and if not you need to work with them to get them on board to adhere to and adopt your company's policies and procedures around modern slavery. 

You might think that you operate in Australia and so the risk of modern slavery is very slim particularly for the particular industry that you might be in but the most recent global slavery index actually reveals that we currently have 15,000 slaves in Australia which is frankly astonishing and they're the ones that we actually know about so it's much more of a serious risk than we might initially think that it is.