STOPPING slavery is the aim of new Home Office guidelines which businesses are being warned about.
Portsmouth law firm Blake Morgan said companies needed to be aware of the guidelines, which are backed up by the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Under the new rules companies which supply goods or services and have an annual turnover of £36m or more are required to produce an annual ‘transparency in supply chains’ statement which sets out the steps they have taken to ensure suppliers do not use slave labour or engage in human trafficking.
Blake Morgan’s immigration team leader Allan Briddock said: ‘A turnover of £36m is not a high threshold and the requirement to produce a modern slavery and human trafficking statement is likely to hit medium-sized businesses hard, particularly in the retail sector.
‘In addition this will affect many companies whose turnover is under the £36m threshold, if they are suppliers to larger businesses.
‘We are likely to see big businesses including a clause in all contracts that all suppliers must not have modern slavery or human trafficking in their supply chains.’
The annual transparency statement may include information such as the organisation’s structure, business and supply chain, its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking, the steps it takes to reduce and manage the risk, and the relevant training given to staff.
He said: ‘All organisations which will be required to prepare the statement should start thinking about whether they have sufficient practices in place to ensure compliance.
‘That includes the organisation looking at the questions it asks its suppliers and its own procurement policies, how it treats its staff, and training.’
Mr Briddock said home Secretary Teresa May wanted peer and consumer pressure to be the driving force in eliminating modern slavery.
He said: ‘The success of the new requirement may, rest with the willingness and ability of the home office to enforce it.’