We recently provided you with a summary of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which came into force in July 2015 (The Modern Slavery Act 2015- New Legal Requirements for Business) and we are now starting to see the first few criminal and civil cases filtering through the court system.
In a recent High Court case, a company which formed part of the supply chain for high profile companies such as McDonalds, Asda, Tesco and Marks and Spencers, was found civilly liable for victims of trafficking and were ordered to pay compensation for:
- Failure to pay the agricultural minimum wage
- Charging of prohibited work-finding fees
- Unlawfully withholding wages
- Depriving workers of facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink.
The Lithuanian workers had been trafficked to the UK and were found to be working in inhuman and degrading conditions.
In a further case heard in the Crown Court, four men were given custodial sentences for modern slavery, kidnap and assault. They were found guilty of forcing victims to perform forced or compulsory labour amongst other offences.
It is encouraging to see authorities enforcing the Act and we are due a further instalment as last month the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill 2016 received its first reading in the House of Lords.
The bill requires commercial organisations to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual report and accounts. It also requires that contracting authorities must exclude economic operators who do not provide a statement from the procurement procedure.
These are all steps in the right direction; however, it does put a further onus on large businesses to ensure that they are fully compliant with the legislation.
If you would like further information, please see our article The Modern Slavery Act 2015- new legal requirements for business or contact our expert advisors on 0114 3032300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.