Slavery includes servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, as well as slavery-like offences such as other aggravated offences that inflict inhumane or degrading treatment on someone else, according to Division 270 of the International Criminal Code Act 1995. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth), businesses that are operating in Australia that have a turnover of $100 million are obligated to publish a modern slavery statement at the end of each financial year. They must do this because the object of the Act is to ensure businesses report on the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and operations, because they want to make sure that the businesses do not use slave labour in their operations and supply chains. The Act also defines modern slavery to include people trafficking and child labour.
The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) also aims to combat modern slavery. Under this Act, businesses operating in Australia that have a turnover of $50 million are obligated to publish a modern slavery statement to the regulator. The Modern Slavery Regulations (which are yet to be released) will detail what the statement must include. Nonetheless, according to section 24(5) of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) the modern slavery statement may include the:
- Businesses structure and supply chains;
- Due diligence processes – failure to do so will result in a fine of up to $1 100 000;
- The parts of the business and supply chains where there is a risk of modern slavery occurring, and the steps the business has taken to assess and manage that risk; and
- training about modern slavery provided to its employees.
The Anti-Slavery Commissioner has an online register where they document whether a businesses supply chains or other processes uses slave labour. This register can be accessed by the public in a bid to deter businesses from engaging in slave labour.
The first mandatory reporting year is 1 July 2019 – 30 June 2020. Hopefully greater transparency and scrutiny on businesses practices that involve modern slavery will result is better working conditions and greater freedom for all.
If you have been affected by modern slavery practices, or have any queries in relation to the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP.