Border Force Warns Publication ≠ Compliance.

Is your Modern Slavery Statement Compliant?

So, you’ve submitted your statement by the deadline and it’s now on the Register. You might be feeling pretty proud of yourself right now, after all, not every organisation has filed their statement yet. You must be doing something right. Right!?

If you’re still reading it may be possible you’re now not so sure. Let’s take a step back and look at what is required.

All Australian businesses, or entities carrying out business in Australia, with an annual consolidated revenue of $100 million are required by the Modern Slavery Act (2018) (the “Act“) to submit a Modern Slavery Statement. For entities operating on the Australian Financial Year, statements for the 19/20 financial year are due by 31 March 2021.

The statements must then be published on the public register. Anyone can search the register, and as at the time of writing this blog post, there were around 111759 searches of the register. Yes a few of those searches can probably be chocked up to my firm checking out the register, but it is clear that people are looking at what other entities are doing and as more and more people in Australia are educated about modern slavery, these numbers will grow. So with that in mind, you need know that your organisation is probably being judged on the quality of your statement as we speak. It is therefore important to put your best foot forward from that perspective alone.

If you haven’t yet reviewed the register, or if someone else in your organisation filed your statement, you may not have seen the following warning contained on Border Force’s page.

Given publication of the statements on the register is not conditional upon compliance with the requirements of the Act, is it possible that your modern slavery statement is non compliant? The answer may be yes. So how do you know your statement is compliant?

If you did not refer to and address the 7 mandatory criteria in the Act when drafting your statement you may be at risk of having a non-compliant statement. Whilst we do not currently know what Border Force’s intentions are in respect of non compliant statements, it is possible that companies who have filed non compliant statements may receive a “please explain” letter. If that occurs, your statement may be flagged on the public register which as we said above may in turn, result in reputational damage to your organisation.

If you have any concerns we recommend you go back and check your statement against the 7 mandatory criteria in the Act. We also recommend that, if you haven’t already, you review Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act – Guidance for reporting entities (2MB PDF). It’s a useful document with a lot of information that will help you to understand what is expected of organisations when preparing their statement. You may also wish to seek advice from a professional who understands the issues and the reporting process. After all, a little bit of time and money spent getting this right could save your organisation a lot of heartache in the future.

Finally, let us leave you with this thought. Every organisation should be aiming for continuous improvement, so now is the time to go back and take a good look at your statement and consider what can you do to improve on how your organisation addresses the risks of modern slavery in your supply chain and organisation. Even if you are confident you have a compliant statement, can you (and your team) answer yes to the following questions:

1. Does your statement portray your organisation in the best light?

2. Are you truly proud of it?

3. Is there room for improvement?

If you or any of your team answered no to those questions, you may want to rethink how you approach your next statement.

If you need help, guidance or even just some assistance to get your statement done before 31 March 2021, we are here to help. You may also just want someone outside your organisation to review your statement and give you some feedback.

We are already helping other businesses by providing a clear path forward.

Book your 30 Minute Complimentary Discovery Call – Making the Deadline with our team here and discover what you need to do, and how we can help you submit a compliant Modern Slavery Statement by 31 March 2021.

IMPORTANT NOTICE – The information contained in this article is not intended to be comprehensive. It is general in nature and is not intended to be used as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. You must seek specific professional advice tailored to your personal circumstances before taking any action based on this article.

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