International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - UK Businesses Must now Take Steps to Tackle Modern Slavery

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - UK Businesses Must now Take Steps to Tackle Modern Slavery

Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, and marks the anniversary of the decision of the UN General Assembly to adopt the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949). Whilst many of us feel far removed from the widespread slavery of the past, modern forms of slavery still exist in the UK and are fuelled by businesses and consumers.


The day is focussed on eradicating modern forms of slavery such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labour, forced marriage and recruiting children for armed conflict. Many of these forms of modern slavery are still happening in the UK, however the government are taking measures to eradicate it. This post looks at the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the role companies can play in eradicating modern slavery.

What is the Modern Slavery Act?

The Modern Slavery Act came into force on the 29th October 2015. The act requires certain organisations to produce an annual statement that outlines the steps they have taken to ensure that no modern slavery takes place in their business, or in any part of their supply chain. Where an organisation has not taken any steps to ensure this, they must say so in the statement.

The act defines Modern Slavery as : ‘slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour’ and ‘human trafficking’.

What do companies have to provide?

The Government has produced guidance called Transparency in Supply Chains has been set out to show what the Government expects from businesses in order to make a credible and accurate statement in relation to their supply chains. The guidance sets out not only what expected, but also what is considered to be various facets of Modern Slavery. It also provides details of how to report modern slavery if discovered.

What organisations will be affected?

All commercial organisations that carry on business in the UK and have an annual turnover of £36 million or more are required to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of that organisation. However, the effect will be much more far reaching than that. Many organisations and contractors that supply larger businesses may be required by such organisations to report on how they ensure slavery is not taking place in their business. This may also affect who larger businesses contract with, as it it ultimately the larger organisation that will bear the brunt of scrutiny.

More info about how the Modern Slavery Act will affect the eradication of slavery.

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