From April 2016 all businesses with an annual turnover above £36m were obliged by the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) to publish Slavery and Human Trafficking statements, setting out the steps that they have taken to combat modern slavery within their businesses and supply chains (including the recruitment agencies they use).
As a result, recruiters supplying labour are finding their businesses under increasing scrutiny from larger hirers, who need to demonstrate the steps that they have taken to minimise the risk of modern slavery occurring within their supply chains.
The Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill, currently passing through Parliament unopposed (as at December 2017 it is due for its 2nd reading in the House of Lords), goes much further. This legislation proposes to force every public sector organisation to exclude from its supply chain any business without a published Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement.
It follows that after the Bill is enacted, although small and medium-sized recruitment businesses will still be under no legal obligation to publish Statements, those recruitment agencies that do not publish one may be affected detrimentally. Exclusion from public sector tendering processes and termination of temporary and contractor assignments are likely consequences.
Recruitment businesses operating solely within the private sector will also be affected if any of their private sector hirer’s supply any goods or services to public sector organisations.
It is always a possibility that a recruitment businesses that fails to comply with the legislation may find itself ‘named and shamed’, while those going above and beyond their obligations are likely to attract praise. For all these reasons it makes commercial sense that all recruitment businesses in the supply chain, whether public sector or otherwise, regard the legislation as applying to them and set out to demonstrate compliance.