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Modern Slavery Policy

Version 1.0 Updated 2 Jun 2022
Policy Manage

Who can use this policy?

This policy can be used by all employers, but is particularly useful for employers that:

  1. need to prepare a policy to assist in the completion of a Modern Slavery Statement which reports on what the organisation is doing to prevent slavery and exploitation taking place in the organisation’s supply chain; and/or
  1. are interested in having a policy that responds to the issue of modern slavery in the workplace either for social or business reasons (such as participation in a tender process or to respond to client or supplier requests).


Commentary
 
The United Nations estimates that there are up to 25 million modern slavery victims in the global supply chain, including over 4,000 people in Australia who are enduring slave-like conditions.
 
After a great deal of debate publicity, the Federal Parliament finally passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Act), following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom who were the first in the world to introduce such laws.
 
The aim of the Act is to transform the way Australian businesses respond to modern slavery by establishing a flexible, risk-based reporting framework that requires business to report and explain what they are doing to eradicate modern slavery. 

What is Modern Slavery?
 
Modern slavery under the Commonwealth Act includes actions such as slavery offences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, such as forced labour or marriage, human trafficking and child labour (including prostitution).
 
Who Does the Act Apply to?
 
The Commonwealth Act only applies to entities that carry on a business in Australia and that has a consolidated revenue of more than $100 million in a reporting period (e.g. financial year) as well as Commonwealth corporate entities. These are known as ‘Reporting Entities’.
 
To be clear, unless your business or entity meet the $100 million consolidated revenue threshold, the Act does not apply to your business. However, any business can voluntarily opt in to the obligations of the Act if they want to.
 
What does the Act require companies to do?
 
If a business meets the $100 million consolidated revenue threshold, then that business is a Reporting Entity and must prepare a Modern Slavery Statement (which is different to an Anti-Slavery Policy).
 
Section 16 of the Commonwealth Act requires companies to prepare and submit a Modern Slavery Statement (Statement) for the specified Reporting Period (normally between 1 July and 30 June the following year) and be lodged on the Modern Slavery Register administered by the Australian Border Force given to the Home Affairs Minister (Minister) by no later than 6 months after the reporting period has finished (e.g. 31 December following the end of that financial year).
 
The Statement must contain the following details:

  1. a description of the structure, operations and supply chains of the reporting entity;
  2. the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains, and any entities the reporting entity owns or controls;
  3. the actions taken by the reporting entity and any entity that the reporting entity owns or controls, to assess and address those risks, including due diligence and remediation processes;
  4. how the reporting entity assesses the effectiveness of such actions; and
  5. describes the process of consultation with any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls; and

includes any other information that the reporting entity, or the entity giving the statement, considers relevant (e.g. actions taken by an entity may include the development of policies and processes to address modern slavery)
 
What are the penalties for breaching the Commonwealth Act?
 
The Commonwealth Act does not contain any financial penalties that can be imposed on companies (despite efforts from some members of parliament who attempted to insert such penalties).
 
If the Minister is satisfied that a company that was required to submit a Statement under the Act has failed to do so, or their Statement is not sufficient, the Minister may publicly publish the Company’s name on a register detailing their failure to comply with the requirements of the Act and any request of the Minister. Such negative exposure may obviously affect consumer confidence un those companies that are named on the register.
 
Why implement an Anti-Slavery Policy?
 
An Anti-Slavery Policy is not a requirement by the Act.
 
Businesses normally implement an Anti-Slavery Policy for different reasons depending on whether or not a business has a consolidated revenue of 100 million in a reporting period. For example:

  1. Reporting entities (Over $100 million Consolidated Revenue): an Anti-Slavery Policy will form part of the Reporting Entity’s Statement as an action that demonstrates their commitment to eradicating modern slavery practices in its operations and supply chain.

 

  1. Non-Reporting entities (Under $100 million Consolidated Revenue): may want an Anti-Slavery Policy because a customer or supplier, who is a Reporting Entity, has requested or required it from them, and/or to demonstrate their commitment to not engaging in, and eradicating, modern slavery practices in their operations or supply chain.

 
What does my Company need to do?
 
We recommend taking the following steps:

  1. determine whether the Modern Slavery Act 2018 applies to your business;
  2. review your operations and supply chain and ensure there are no modern slavery practices involved, or take actions to minimise the risk of such practices being involved in your supply chain;
  3. talk to your suppliers and business partners and ensure they are not involved in such modern slavery practices; and
  4. develop anti-slavery, and related policies to implement in the business; and
  5. Seek legal advice for assistance in preparing a Statement when the time comes to prepare and lodge it.

 

Important note to subscribers

The commentaries and documents in Workplace are updated as necessary, to keep them relevant. You should familiarise yourself with the relevant commentary each time you create a document.

This document has been drafted to suit a wide variety of businesses, with a number of options available to enable you to customise the document to better suit your business. Nevertheless, you may need to make other changes to the document so that it suits the specific needs of your business. If you make additional changes, we cannot guarantee that the changes and modifications you make to the document will be legally compliant or enforceable.

This commentary and any additional information provided to assist you in creating this document, does not constitute legal advice.

If you are unsure about any aspect of this document (including the changes or amendments you make to it), you should seek appropriate advice from a lawyer, skilled in these issues. You may also wish to consider contacting Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors for targeted advice on your business’s specific needs.

You should consult with your financial advisor in relation to any relevant taxation or financial issues concerning the document you create.

After creating this document, you should read through it carefully to make sure it meets your business needs and is consistent with other industrial instruments, policies and procedures which operate in your workplace. This commentary is not designed to be provided to employees or other workplace participants.

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