Proposals by the House of Commons and House of Lords’ Joint Committee on Human Rights are likely to require increased vigilance by all companies against human slavery and other human rights abuses, according to a leading corporate lawyer. “The Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduced a requirement for all large corporates carrying on business in the UK to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016.  The Joint Committee proposes additional obligations, some of which apply to all companies not merely large corporates.”

Mr Round continues, “The Modern Slavery Act 2015 obliges companies with a global consolidated turnover exceeding £36m per annum to produce a human trafficking statement setting out the measures taken by them to combat human slavery in their supply chain. The Joint Committee has noted that the lack of a central list of those companies required to comply is inhibiting the proper monitoring of compliance.  It has therefore urged the Government to facilitate the passage of a bill requiring the compilation of such a list by the Secretary of State and also preventing public bodies from procuring services from companies that have not conducted the requisite due diligence.”

According to Mr Round, the Joint Committee also recommends accelerating legislative proposals designed to require reporting by large corporates of their due diligence on all relevant human rights, not just modern slavery. “Any such requirements would be accompanied by a monitoring mechanism and enforcement procedures.  Furthermore, the Joint Committee suggests bringing forward legislation to impose a duty on all companies to prevent human rights abuses, not merely large corporates.”

Mr Round concludes, “in light of the further proposals, it is clearly important that all companies ensure they have a proper procedure in place to prevent and eradicate any human rights abuses in their supply chain.”