The UK government has announced, in the Queen’s Speech today, that it is planning to introduce a Modern Slavery Bill in this Parliamentary period.
It is not yet known when exactly the Bill will be published but we will be monitoring this closely.
The new Bill is expected to :
- strengthen the requirements on businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual modern slavery statement to set out steps taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains;
- mandate the reporting areas to be covered in modern slavery statements;
- require in-scope organisations to publish their statements on a government-run registry;
- extend those requirements to public bodies; and
- introduce civil penalties for organisations that do not comply with the requirements.
These changes are in line with what the government had said in 2020 it planned to do following its consultation in 2019 (see our previous blog post).
In the meantime, the government encourages all organisations to publish their annual modern slavery statements on the online modern slavery statement registry that it set up in March 2021 (see our previous blog post). Apparently, since the launch of the online registry, over 7,000 statements have been submitted covering over 23,350 organisations on a voluntary basis.