New South Wales Parliament has today passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW). The Act:
1. Establishes the role of Anti-Slavery Commissioner that will be responsible for maintaining a public register of Modern Slavery statements, interacting with agencies, reporting to parliament, monitoring the effectiveness of the Act and raising awareness.
2. Requires all commercial entities (that supply goods and services) with total revenue of $50m and an employee in NSW to prepare annual public modern slavery statement for each financial year to be made publicly available within a set period after the end of that business’s financial year to be set out in the regulations made under the Act.
3. Penalties of up to $1.1 m will apply for non-compliance and for false or misleading statement. In contrast, the proposed federal Modern Slavery Bill is expected to be limited to entities with total consolidated revenue of threshold at $100 m and it is not expected to provide any penalties for non-compliance; and
4. Provides that the reporting requirements of statements will be set by regulation, but may include:
(a) the organisation's structure, its business and its supply chains;
(b) its due diligence process in relation modern slavery;
(c) parts of the business and supply chains where risks exist, and steps taken to manage those risks; and
(d) training about modern slavery to its employees.
5. For Government Procurement, the Commissioner must regularly consult with the Auditor-General and the NSW Procurement Board to monitor the effectiveness of due diligence procedures in place to ensure that the procurement of goods and services by government agencies are not the product of modern slavery.
It is expected that the reporting requirement will not apply to foreign corporations or government agencies. Commercial organisations that are subject to obligations under the anticipated Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act will be exempt from the reporting requirements under the act, subject to it being prescribed that the legislation is comparable. No doubt this will be a relevant factor in determining the respective reporting criteria under both pieces of legislation.