concept of Modern Slavery is a relatively broad term that refers to situations
where a person cannot refuse to work (or leave work) due to threats of
violence, deception or coercion.
concept has formed the basis of new laws introduced in countries like Britain
with the express purpose of discouraging the exploitation of labour by making
it difficult for businesses in developed economies to sell products (and/or
services) that have been brought to market using ‘slave labour’.
last year, Australia joined this international movement via the passing of the
Modern Slavery Act (2018). For the purposes of the Act, Modern Slavery will
seek to minimise the risk of goods and service sold in Australia being derived through
criminal activities such as the use of child labour, forced labour, human
trafficking, slavery like practices, deceptive recruiting of labour.
recent article produced by legal firm Norton Rose Fulbright (See http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/publications/155473/modern-slavery-act-what-businesses-in-australia-need-to-know)
cited statistics from the 2018 Global Slavery Index suggesting that:
- in excess of 40 million people
globally are subject to some form of modern slavery and collectively
approximately US$150 billion per year is generated in the global private
economy from forced labour alone;
- 24,990,000 people in the
Asia-Pacific Region are ‘enslaved’ (62 per cent of all people enslaved); and
- 15,000 people in Australia are ‘enslaved’.
the laws don’t carry any penalties for participating in such activities (as
they are already outlined in the Australian Criminal Code), the principal
objective of the new laws are to encourage Australian businesses to report
publicly on the steps that they are taking to reduce the risk of modern slavery
– both within their own business (including any wholly owned subsidiaries) and
within their supply chains.
new laws impose reporting obligations on a significant number of fuel
businesses in Australia given the $100M threshold, including large/medium fuel
retailers as well as medium fuel distribution businesses”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark
new laws took effect on 1 January 2019 and will likely result in affected
businesses being required to lodge their first annual report for the 2019/2020
financial year (Australian subsidiary businesses that operate on other
financial years will be required to report on the first ‘whole’ financial year
that falls after 1 January 2019).
effect this means that all affected businesses should start to review their own
operations and their supply chains to ensure that all reasonable steps are
being taken to minimise the risk of human slavery.
extension of the laws to the supply chains of large entities, therefore means
that larger businesses will need to review the operations of all smaller
businesses in their supply chains (e.g. fuel distribution and fuel retail
businesses) to ensure that they too are making all reasonable efforts to
minimise human slavery risks.
short, these new laws will impact businesses of all sizes in our industry –
either as a result of being a large business that is required to report
publicly, or as a result of being a supplier to such a business”, said Mark.
of the “human slavery” activities identified in the Act might reasonably be
considered rare in Australian society, the obligation extends to suppliers of
goods and services operating in other international economies where the risk of
such activities is typically higher.
area that could well be relevant in the context of the Australian business
environment is the definition of ‘deceptive recruiting of labour’.
laws complement existing Australian employment laws and the Vulnerable Workers Bill (2017),
requiring all businesses to ensure that their employment documentation satisfies
all Australian employment laws.
no one has argued against the intent of these laws but there are questions
about the scope reporting and the interpretation of what constitutes ‘reasonable
efforts’ to minimise the risk of human slavery activities”, said Mark.
has started to discussions with the Australian Government to seek clarity on
fully intend to use this information to develop a service that supports our
members in meeting their reporting obligations under the Act – either as a
large business that is required to report directly or as a business that forms
part of the supply chain of a large business”, said Mark.
information will be provided to members as it comes to hand, but it is time for
businesses to start thinking about how these new laws will affect them and how
they will review modern slavery risks within their operations”, concluded Mark
meantime, further information about these laws can be obtained by contacting
ACAPMA’s Employment and IR team on 1300 160 270 or by sending an email to email@example.com