What Is A Modern Slavery Policy?

Written by

Raja Abbas

What Is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is an umbrella term which encompasses human trafficking, forced labour or any sort of exploitation. In the workforce, modern slavery does not include underpayment of workers or being negligent. Modern slavery has relevance to companies as businesses have a role in ensuring their practices do not adhere or support modern slavery.

What Is A Modern Slavery Policy?

A modern slavery policy is a document which outlines a company’s position in regards to preventing modern slavery and its processes for identifying and dealing with instances of modern slavery.

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) is to make specific Australian companies provide annual reports on the risks of modern slavery within their businesses. Any business in Australia may be subject to modern slavery and in response, it is integral for businesses to develop a modern day slavery policy which outlines how the business’s practices will not contribute to modern day slavery. 

Does Your Small Business Need a Modern Slavery Policy?

Small businesses in Australia are not required to make a modern slavery policy. However, ensuring that your business’s suppliers do not engage in modern slavery is important. 

The Attorney-General defines that modern slavery reporting is only a legal requirement to entities in Australia who have a consolidated revenue of at least $100 million dollars.

However, with the rise of corporate social responsibility and consumers boycotting organisations that discard the triple bottom line, it is recommended to develop a modern slavery policy to ensure consumers are aware of your business practices ethically and avoid engaging in modern slavery. Small businesses can consider alternative suppliers or asking for confirmation of a modern slavery policy can be measured small businesses may implement when engaging with other businesses. 

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Key Components of a Modern Slavery Policy

When developing a modern slavery policy, it is recommended using a template or seeking legal advice to ensure the policy is legally compliant and consistent with the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth)

Below are a few key components that should be included in a modern slavery policy:

Purpose

The purpose of the modern slavery policy should be defined here. It is likely the purpose will be to pledge the business’s support in avoiding slavery and to not engage in modern slavery practices.

Indicators of Modern Slavery

A business’s modern slavery policy is also likely to state any indicators of modern slavery. These indicators should be general and broad depending on the business type, communication methods (online or face to face), and business size. Indicators of modern slavery include not being in possession of ID, limited social interaction with others and acting with hostility.  

Responsibilities of Both Parties

A modern slavery policy will also state the responsibilities of both the employer and employee in eradicating modern slavery. This is likely to include the business’s pledging to identify and address modern slavery risks in the business and supply chain, and to take steps in raising awareness of modern slavery risks. 

How to Report Modern Slavery

A modern slavery policy will outline the procedures to take if you have a reasonably held suspicion of modern slavery practices. This may include contacting a manager if you suspect modern slavery occuring in the workplace or calling the police in circumstances where you suspect someone is subject to modern slavery.

It is recommended to use a template or seek legal advice when constructing a modern slavery document to avoid inconsistency and ensure legal compliance. 

Mistakes to Avoid

It is integral to ensure that your modern slavery policy avoids common errors made when drafting a modern slavery policy. These mistakes include:

Specificity

Providing vague or general statements when drafting your modern slavery policy is ineffective and counterproductive to tackling modern slavery. It is important your modern slavery policy is specific in every aspect.

No Reporting Mechanism

Failing to provide a reporting mechanism within a modern slavery policy means employees and other stakeholders are unsure of how to report a suspected act of modern slavery. Listing the different actions one can take to report modern slavery is a necessity. 

Tokenism

Like greenwashing, tokenism occurs when a business acts symbolically or performative when it comes to social justice. Tokenising modern slavery in a modern slavery policy could include the act of not practicing or genuinely caring when it comes to modern slavery being reported or pointed out. 

It is recommended seeking legal advice or using a template when constructing a modern slavery policy to avoid making such errors. 

F.A.Qs

Are small business owners required to have a modern slavery policy?

Small businesses in Australia are not required to make a modern slavery policy. However, ensuring that your business’s suppliers do not engage in modern slavery is important. 

The Attorney-General defines that modern slavery reporting is only a legal requirement to entities in Australia who have a consolidated revenue of at least $100 million dollars.

What is a modern slavery policy?

A modern slavery policy is a document which outlines a company’s position in regards to preventing modern slavery and its processes for identifying and dealing with instances of modern slavery.

Conclusion

Overall, modern slavery is an issue that businesses have a role in tackling. This can be done through constructing a modern slavery policy for the business. Small businesses are not required to construct a modern slavery policy, however they have the ability to make one out of corporate social responsibility. Key components in a modern slavery policy include indicators of modern slavery and how to report it. Furthermore, common mistakes to avoid in regards to modern slavery include lacking specificity and tokenism. Overall, it is important a modern slavery agreement is legally compliant and consistent with legislation. 

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