Today, the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Alex Hawke MP, tabled the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 in Parliament. The new reporting regime will have a significant impact on larger businesses operating in or from Australia.
The Modern Slavery Bill requires businesses based, or operating, in Australia, which have an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks. Entities not caught by this threshold can opt in.
Under the Bill, businesses will be required annually to submit a “modern slavery statement” that complies with the following mandatory criteria (which may change as the Bill passes through Parliament and is referred to a committee for consideration). In summary, the statement must:
- identify the reporting entity;
- describe the structure, operations and supply chain of the reporting entity;
- describe the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity and any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls;
- describe the actions taken by the reporting entity and any entity it owns or controls, to assess and address those risks, including due diligence and remediation processes (the Bill notes that those actions may include the development of policies and processes
- to address modern slavery risks and training for staff about modern slavery);
- describe the process of consultation with:
- any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls; and
- in the case of a reporting entity covered by a joint statement, the entity giving the statement; and
- include any other information that the reporting entity, or the entity giving the statement, considers relevant.
Entities can report on behalf of their subsidiaries and entities they control by publishing a “joint statement”.
The modern slavery statement must be approved by the ‘principal governing body’ of each reporting entity or an entity in a position to influence or control each reporting entity (for a company, this will be the board of directors) and otherwise by at least one reporting entity. It must be signed (electronically) by a ‘responsible member’ of the approving entity, normally a company director or secretary.
The statement must then be sent or uploaded to the (soon to be established) register of modern slavery statements to be run by the Commonwealth Government and freely accessible on the internet.
The Bill stipulates that Commonwealth corporate entities and companies that meet the monetary threshold will also be required to report. Further, the Commonwealth Government will be required to report on behalf of all non-corporate Commonwealth entities.
The introduction of this Bill comes after several Government inquiries and consultations into the prevalence of modern slavery in Australia and globally, and is modelled on the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015, butwith some significant differences. For further background on the development of this law, check out our Modern Slavery Act hub.
The Bill will likely become law later this year, as is or with amendments. We anticipate that the first reporting year for businesses reporting in accordance with an Australian financial year will be 2019-20, although this will depend upon the progress of the Bill.