Late last year, the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 was passed Federally in the NSW State Parliament heralding a new statutory modern slavery reporting requirement for larger companies in Australia.
Reporting obligations relate to the steps taken to respond to the risk of modern slavery in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity and its controlled entities. The reporting criteria are mandatory.
It is crucial that reporting entities begin reviewing their supply chains and collecting data ahead of the introduction of reporting obligations. The first reporting year will be 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.
At its broadest, the term ‘modern slavery’ refers to any situations of exploitation where a person cannot refuse or leave work because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception. The Australian regime defines modern slavery to incorporate conduct that would constitute an offence under existing human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offence provisions set out in Divisions 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.
Modern slavery will encompass slavery, servitude, the worst forms of child labour, forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, slavery like practices, forced marriage and deceptive recruiting for labour or services.
Entities will need to report if they carry on business in Australia with a minimum annual consolidated revenue of $100 million.
Entities in NSW will be obliged to report under the NSW Act if they have a turnover of $50 million. Corporate groups should obtain specific advice in relation to which entities are required to report and how joint reporting can work.
Once the Modern Slavery Act commences, a targeted regulatory regime will be introduced, under which large businesses will report annually. Those reports will be published on a public register.