Legal Advice on Modern Slavery

The Modern Slavery Act came in to force in 2016, it created three types of criminal offences. Although the offences are aimed at individuals, it is very easy for businesses to become embroiled in allegations of:

  • Slavery or servitude
  • Forced or compulsory labour
  • Human trafficking

A person commits an offence if they hold another in slavery or servitude, or require another person to perform forced or compulsory labour. If a business employs, procures or uses the services of a trafficked or exploited person or group of people the business owners can be prosecuted, made subject to a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order and have their assets frozen or confiscated.

If you know or (crucially) ought to know that a person is held in slavery or servitude you can commit an offence or be made subject to an order.

What is meant by forced or compulsory labour?

Compulsory labour implies an element of coercion, oppression or deception of the victim. It may be that a business unwittingly employs a person who is subject to oppression – for example they might be having their wages diverted to a third party who is exploiting them.

What is meant by human trafficking?

Human trafficking involves arranging or facilitating the travel either into or around the UK (with or without their consent) with a view to their being exploited. This may include recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving the victim, or transferring or exchanging control over the victim.Again, a business could be transporting a trafficked individual unwittingly from place to place, or arranging a supply of labour into the UK for seasonal work.

How does the Modern Slavery Act Impact on my Business

Large commercial organisations that carry on business in the UK and have a total turnover of £36 million or more must prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement.

The statements must be approved by the company board and signed by a director (or equivalent) and made available on the homepage of the company’s website.

Smaller businesses should consider drafting a compliant statement to protect themselves against allegations of modern slavery in the supply chain.

All businesses should have policies and procedures in place to eliminate the risk of prosecution, investigation or forfeiture.

The following business sectors are particularly at risk and should seek advice regardless of the size of their operation:

  • Landlords – especially HMO landlords
  • Restaurants / catering
  • Factory / production
  • Food producers / suppliers
  • Builders / construction
  • Agriculture
  • Recruitment consultants (link to recruitment regulations)
  • Gangmasters (link to Gangmasters)
  • Hoteliers
  • Nail salons / hairdressers

We can assist with:

  • Drafting a compliant Modern Slavery Act statement
  • Forfeiture / Seizure Applications
  • Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders
  • Criminal investigations
  • Defending allegations

For a free, confidential discussion the regulatory department on 0113 284 5000.