Are you aware of how your products are made and the conditions that they are made in? How well do you know your supply chain?
No one wants to support the exploitation of workers. Ethical concerns are becoming more important and more to businesses and consumers as there is increasing awareness of these issues and the steps that can be taken to prevent it.
Earlier this year, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 came into force in New South Wales. Following the enactment of these laws, a similar Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (Cth) passed the Lower House of Parliament, which would be applicable Australia-wide.
NSW Modern Slavery Act
The NSW Act requires that businesses with an annual turnover of $50 million or more produce a publicly-available modern slavery statement which outlines the steps that they are taking to ensure that the goods and services they supply are not a product of modern slavery. Failure to adhere to the new laws could result in penalties of up to $1.1 million.
Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill
The new Commonwealth Bill will apply to businesses with a revenue of over $100 million per financial year, which will similarly require businesses to prepare a modern slavery statement each financial year. The statement must contain information about the business’s:
- structure, operations and supply chains;
- risks of modern slavery practices in its operations and supply chains (and related bodies corporate);
- actions taken by the business/any related bodies corporate to assess and address those risks; and
- the effectiveness of those actions.
What steps you can take
As the government places focus on stamping out modern slavery, we recommend that businesses, large and small, take steps to better understand their supply chain and where their products are sourced.
One way to begin is by developing an Ethical or Responsible Sourcing Policy, which outlines what your businesses’ policy is when selecting suppliers regarding key issues such as fair wages and break entitlements for workers, workplace health and safety conditions and the minimum age of workers.