Closely following the passage of the NSW Modern Slavery Act on 21 June 2018 (NSW Act), a federal Modern Slavery Bill was introduced to Parliament on 28 June 2018. Debate on the Bill has been adjourned until the next Parliamentary sittings period, which begins in August 2018. The Government has reaffirmed its commitment to pass the Bill before the end of the year.
New South Wales has become the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce specific modern slavery legislation. The NSW Modern Slavery Act (NSW Act) is distinct from the proposed federal Act, which is expected to be tabled for debate in the federal Parliament in the coming weeks and is also likely to pass into law with bipartisan support. Continue reading
Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (‘Committee’) has handed down its final report in its inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.
The inquiry included consideration of the Australian Government’s announcement in August 2017 that it would adopt the Committee’s in principle recommendation in the interim report to introduce a modern slavery reporting requirement.
On 16 August 2017, the Australian Government announced a proposal to introduce a modern slavery reporting requirement applying to all large Australian businesses.
The proposal, which enjoys broad support from a number of prominent Australian businesses, feeds into the growing emphasis on addressing modern slavery risks within the supply chains of Australian businesses. Prominent social activist, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), is currently pursuing a campaign to requisition resolutions regarding the same issue at upcoming listed company AGMs.
We consider the Government’s proposal below by looking at:
- What is the rationale for the new reporting requirement?
- What due diligence obligations will businesses have?
- Key features of the proposed reporting regime
- When will the reporting requirement be introduced?
- What has been the response of the business community?
- How can Australian businesses respond to the reporting requirement?
- What is the recent activist campaign in relation to modern slavery?
The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Act) requires certain businesses to prepare and publish a slavery and trafficking statement for each financial year from the year ending 31 March 2016.
This may impact organisations in Asia where, for example, the business activities of a subsidiary form part of the supply chain of a UK business or where organisations are striving towards eradicating human rights abuses in their business and supply chains. Is your company compliant?
Concerns in relation to “modern slavery” are increasingly important for businesses to recognise. This is especially so in Asia, where poor enforcement mechanisms and unfamiliarity with employee rights often result in exploitative working conditions. What can companies do to ensure that their business and supply chains are free from unethical labour practices?
A new UK supply chain reporting obligation came into force on 29 October 2015. Any large (worldwide turnover of £36 million or more) commercial organisation carrying on business in the UK, wherever incorporated, is required to comply.
We issued a briefing on the new reporting requirement in August 2015. An update of that briefing, which reflects the commencement date and Government guidance, is available here.
On 1 October 2015 the following changes came into force:
- New national minimum wage rates, the adult rate increasing from £6.50 to £6.70 an hour.
- Employment tribunals have lost their power to make wider recommendations for employers to take remedial action in successful discrimination claims; they can now only make recommendations that would benefit the particular claimant (and therefore not where the claimant has left the job).
- Sikh workers now have the right to wear a turban instead of a safety helmet in most workplaces (subject to various exceptions).