On August 16, 2017, the Australian Government announced its intention to introduce legislation that will require large businesses to report annually on actions taken to address modern slavery, including in their supply chains.
It released a consultation paper on a proposed model for the Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. It proposed that this reporting requirement will require large corporations and other entities operating in Australia to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. A central repository for modern slavery statements is also proposed.
The government conducted a public consultation which, together with the Parliamentary inquiry process, will help determine the final content of the proposed legislation.
A series of stakeholder roundtables were convened between August and December, 2017.
Written submissions were also invited. Submissions closed on October 20, 2017.
On June 28, 2018, the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, the Honorable Alex Hawke MP introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2018.
Effective January 1, 2019, Australia will require businesses and other organizations above a certain size (consolidated revenue of $100 million) to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and the action they have taken to assess and address those risks, and the effectiveness of their response. Smaller businesses will be able to report voluntarily. To ensure high-level engagement, the statement has to be approved by the board of directors or equivalent and signed by a director. The statements will be publicly available on a central register maintained by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth government itself, and those of its entities that satisfy the reporting revenue threshold, will also have to prepare a statement. The government will also establish a departmental unit to help business address slavery risks and prepare statements. Reports are due June 30, 2020.
National Action Plan, Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2016-2020)
Germany released the National Action Plan, Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights 2016-2020, which declares, “To supplement the existing structures, the Federal Government has shifted the focal point of its efforts toward the fight against human trafficking for the purpose of exploitative employment.”
Italian National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (2016-2021)
Italy published the Italian National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2016-2021, which calls to “conduct a comprehensive study of the Law 231/2001 in order to evaluate potential extension of the scope and application of the administrative liability of legal entities.”
Planned measures include conducting “a comprehensive review of the existing commercial and civil law to assess and evaluate legislative reform introducing provisions such as the ‘duty of care’ or due diligence for companies.”
Child Labor Due Diligence Law
On February 7, 2017, the Dutch Parliament adopted a bill that would require companies to conduct due diligence as to whether child labor is occurring in their own operations or in their supply chains effective 2020. The bill has stalled in the Dutch Senate.
Amendments to the Modern Slavery Act:
In April 2017, the U.K. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report on Human Rights and Business that urged the government to introduce new legislation and take stronger enforcement action to prevent business-related human rights abuses.
The panel recommend that the government should introduce legislation that business enterprises could be liable to prosecution for failing to prevent human rights abuses.
The proposal is similar to the U.K. Bribery Act, 2010.
On January 22, 2019, the U.K. published an interim report on the Transparency in Supply Chains provision.
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