Key Provisions of the Modern Slavery Act

Heads of Agreement

The purpose of the The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) is to make specific Australian companies provide annual reports on the risks of modern slavery within their businesses. This includes any other entities that are owned by these companies. By enabling businesses to be aware of modern slavery risks in their own practices, it promotes a safer and more self-aware business culture.

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is a contemporary issue which has only recently made it into Australia’s domestic legislation. Modern slavery is an issue which violates individuals human rights. Any business can be subject to modern slavery and, thus, why it’s important to understand how to deal with this issue.

Purpose of the act

What is the purpose of the Modern Slavery Act? Simply put, the Act requires some companies to report any and all risks of modern slavery that may be present in the way they conduct business. This includes through any supply chains and other various operations. Consequently, the Act requires that these businesses work to show how they are combating this issue.

Who must adhere to the act?

An Australian business that earns a minimum annual revenue of $100 million must adhere to the Act. It is mandatory for these businesses to prepare an annual report on modern slavery addressing the issue within their business. In addition, any Australian entities who do not meet the requirement but wish to prepare a report can do so by following the directions under section 6 of the Act.

What should you include in the report?

So now you know your business must comply with the Act. What is the annual report? This is also known as the Modern Slavery Statement. Subsequently, here is what needs to be included, when you need to submit the report and how you submit it.

What should you include?

Section 16 of the Act states all the mandatory criteria for the statements. Some of these include:

  • Identifying the entity
  • Describing the structure, operations and supply chains of the entity and the respective risks of modern slavery
  • The actions taken by the entity to deal with these risks including any remediation processes
  • How the entity has assessed the effectiveness of these actions
  • Consultation process between the entity and any others it owns or controls
  • Any other relevant information

The Business and Government aspect of the Australian Border Force is responsible for this Act. They have created a Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 Guidance to help businesses prepare their statements.

When should you submit the report?

Your business should submit the report no later than 6 months after their financial year finishes. For instance, if your business’ financial year is from 1st July to the 30th June, then the latest you can submit the statement is the 31st of December. Additionally, you must make sure you adjust this according to how your company’s financial year/reporting period works.

How should you submit the report?

Your report needs approval before you publish it. Firstly, the principle governing body approves the statement. Secondly, a responsible member of the entity needs to sign it. A company’s director has the authority to do this.

The statement can sent to the Australian Border Force once signed and approved. You must submit it through the Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements. They review the statement to make sure it is compliant and subsequently publish it.

Where can you access the reports?

If you’d like to access your own report or browse other entities reports, you can visit the Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements. Clicking on this link will take you directly to the page where you can even submit your own statement, for instance.

What are the penalties for failing to comply with the act?

In the instance an entity fails to comply with providing a statement, section 16A of the Modern Slavery Act states the different things the Minister for Home Affairs may do. Additionally, the Minister may write to the entity once they are satisfied that the business has failed to comply with the requirements then the Minister may write to the entity requesting:

a) they provide an explanation for their failure within 28 days or longer after the request is given

b) undertake remedial action for that requirement in accordance with the request within 8 days or longer after the request is given

In addition, when the Minister is satisfied that an entity has failed to comply with a request they may publish information on the register. This includes:

  • Business identity
  • Details of the explanation or remedial action requested
  • Reasons why the Minister is satisfied the entity has failed to comply with request

Conclusion

Thus, there are many important provisions that are a part of the Modern Slavery Act. They include the purpose of the act, which businesses must adhere to the act, the contents of the statements to be made and any penalties for a failure to provide statements. It demonstrates the significance of the issue of modern slavery particularly in the contemporary context of Australian business.

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