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This page provides guidance for businesses specifically about addressing and reporting on modern slavery risks during the coronavirus pandemic. You can read guidance relating to government support for victims of modern slavery.

Publishing a modern slavery statement

Under section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, certain businesses are required to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to identify and address their modern slavery risks.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential that businesses continue their activity to identify and address risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. As well as focusing on the health and safety of their workers, businesses will need to consider how fluctuations in demand and changes in their operating model may lead to new or increased risks of labour exploitation.

If a business needs to delay their modern slavery statement

The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic may mean that some businesses will not be able to publish their statement within the usual timeframe (for example if they have reduced staff capacity). Businesses which need to delay the publication of their modern slavery statement by up to 6 months due to coronavirus-related pressures will not be penalised. In their statement, businesses should state the reason for any delay.

Addressing and reporting on risks

Businesses will still need to report on the actions that they have taken during this period. Work to address new or increased risks may take precedence over previously planned activities and may mean that businesses are not able to meet the goals set in earlier modern slavery statements.

Businesses should use their next statement to demonstrate how they monitored their risks during this period and adapted their activities and priorities in response.

Addressing modern slavery risks

Some workers may be more vulnerable to modern slavery during the coronavirus pandemic. Issues to consider include:

The health and safety of workers

It is important that the relevant local or national government policies are implemented throughout your supply chain. This may include adopting social distancing measures and paying statutory sick pay in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Supporting suppliers

Businesses should prioritise engagement with suppliers, including paying for orders already in production where possible. Whilst some previously placed orders may no longer be required, late cancellations can lead to workers not receiving wages for work they have completed.

Grievance procedures

It is important that workers are still able to access grievance procedures and that new or adapted procedures are made available where necessary.

Recruitment

Some suppliers may be seeking to recruit additional workers in order to meet increases in demand. Businesses should ensure that they, and their suppliers, are maintaining rigorous checks during the recruitment process to ensure that vulnerable workers are not being exploited by third parties seeking to profit from heightened demand.

Emerging risks

In the context of a rapidly changing landscape, there may be new or increased modern slavery risks in your operations and supply chains. Businesses may need to undertake new risk assessments or reconsider the prioritisation of previously identified risks.

As part of these risk assessments, businesses should consider which parts of their workforce may be particularly vulnerable and keep their Board of Directors updated on emerging or heightened risks.

More information and guidance

The following is a non-exhaustive list of updates and guidance for businesses on coronavirus.

Guidance for employers

Guidance for businesses

Guidance for investors

Article from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-reporting-modern-slavery-for-businesses/modern-slavery-reporting-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic