Businesses must prepare for new Modern Slavery laws

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Australian businesses are encouraged to begin training human resources professionals in modern slavery compliance in preparation for the lodgement of their first reports in June 2020.

Accredited workplace relations specialist and Rigby Cooke partner, Rob Jackson, said HR professionals had a pivotal role to play in modern slavery compliance in all Australian businesses.

“Training in identifying slavery risks, reporting and compliance will be essential to ensure businesses all over Australia are complying with the new laws,” Mr Jackson said.

“While these laws only require a report from large companies with $100 million or higher consolidated revenue, the supply chain implications mean any business, however small, that deals, or would like to deal, with large business, must know how to identify potentially non-compliant practices which involve coerced labour or slavery.”

In Australia alone approximately 15,000 people are trapped in modern slavery according to the Global Slavery Index 2018.

Mr Jackson said the new legislation recognised the prevalence of modern slavery.

“The new reporting obligations require businesses to assess any risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and practices, both in Australia and overseas,” Mr Jackson said.

“The report also requires businesses to indicate what strategies – such as policies or training – they will put in place to manage and eliminate modern slavery risks.

“This is why leadership by HR managers is so crucial. The HR profession instinctively know how to manage staff training requirements, and know best what employment practices or policies will ensure compliance within a business.”

The federal Modern Slavery Act was passed in the House of Representations in November 2018 and came into effect in January this year.  However, businesses are not required to lodge their first reports on the Modern Slavery Statements Register until June 30, 2020.

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