Which employers are required to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement?

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires some organisations to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year, setting out the steps that the organisation has taken during the year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its supply chains or its own business (or setting out that it has taken no such steps).

An employer is covered by the duty to prepare a statement under s.54 if it:

  • is a body corporate or partnership, wherever incorporated or formed;
  • carries on a business, or part of a business, in any part of the UK;
  • supplies goods and services; and
  • has a total turnover of at least £36 million per year.

There is no special exemption for public bodies or charities. Trading companies owned by public bodies or charities will have to prepare a statement if they have sufficient turnover. The public body or charity itself will have to prepare a statement if it has sufficient turnover and "carries on a business, or part of a business". The statutory guidance, Transparency in supply chains etc: a practical guide, which sets out the Government's intention as to how the duty should apply, states that whether or not an organisation carries on a business is to be determined "by applying a common sense approach". Incidental trading activity, such as hiring out a hall or rooms, is unlikely of itself to mean that an organisation is caught by the definition.

Each company within a group structure must publish a statement if it meets the requirements relating to turnover and commercial activity in its own right (the turnover of a parent company is calculated including the turnover of any subsidiary undertakings). However, the statutory guidance states that a parent company can prepare one statement covering the group, which subsidiary companies can use to meet their obligations, as long as the statement covers the activities of each of the subsidiaries that is required to produce a statement.

The requirement to carry on a business in the UK is not defined in the legislation, but the statutory guidance states that having a UK subsidiary will not, in itself, mean that a parent company is carrying on a business in the UK.