Businesses ‘woefully unprepared’ for slavery act

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UK businesses are woefully unprepared for the Modern Slavery Act’s reporting requirement despite the fact that the new rules come into force on 1st April, the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply has warned.

From then, businesses with a turnover of more than £36m will be required to report annually on the steps they have taken to ensure modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chains.

A survey of CIPS members showed that 19 per cent of UK supply chain managers who fall under the new rules are unaware of the requirements, with 38 per cent unable to say when their first modern slavery report will be due.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) admit that they do not fully understand what their business is required to do. Even if they did find modern slavery in their supply chain, more than half (52 per cent) of UK supply managers admit they would not know what to do.

Just a third of supply chain managers claim to have mapped their suppliers to understand the potential risks and exposure to modern slavery, while only 41 per cent have ensured all workers in the UK in their supply chain receive the minimum wage and apply robust immigration checks.

Less than 28 per cent of businesses in this group claim to have provided training to employees and local suppliers on modern slavery, despite a quarter of the procurement professionals surveyed citing lack of skills as the main obstacle in dealing with the issue.

CIPS CEO David Noble said: “The Modern Slavery reporting requirement means that businesses can no longer afford to ignore slavery issues, morally and commercially. If they are unable to convincingly outline the steps they are taking to eradicate human exploitation from their supply chain, they risk damaging both their reputation and their bottom line.

“Our findings suggest that good intent is not yet translating into action. With little motivation and no sanctions to speak of, this requirement rests on goodwill and general awareness. Consumers, communities and businesses deserve better.”

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