Modern Slavery Statements: reminder for reporting entities to prepare second statements

With the deadline for submissions of 2020-2021 Modern Slavery Statements fast approaching, now is the time for financial year reporting entities under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (Modern Slavery Act) to start preparing their second statements. The reporting deadline for the 2021 Modern Slavery Statements is 6 months after the end of the reporting entity’s financial year. Accordingly, statements for the 30 June 2021 financial year are due on 31 December 2021. Calendar year reporting entities have until 30 June 2022 to submit their statements.

The Modern Slavery Act requires reporting entities (being an entity based in, or operating in, Australia with an annual consolidated revenue of $100 million or more) to document the steps taken to assess and address risks of modern slavery in an annual modern slavery statement that will be published on the Modern Slavery Statements Register maintained by the Australian Border Force (ABF).

This article provides a brief overview of what a reporting entity should consider when preparing its second Modern Slavery Statement.

Commentary on the first round of statements

In November 2020, the ABF released guidance identifying possible areas of improvement in statements already submitted. Suggested improvements included that statements:

  • meet the requirements for approval and signature set out in the Modern Slavery Act. This means indicating principal governing body approval and signature by a responsible member;
  • comply with the Australian Modern Slavery Act rather than reporting laws in other jurisdictions;
  • identify the Australian reporting entity/entities covered by the statement;
  • describe the nature, context or extent of modern slavery risks; and
  • describe the entity’s consultation with owned or controlled entities and (where applicable) with reporting entities covered by the statement.

Reporting entities should consider this feedback when preparing their second statements to ensure compliance with the Modern Slavery Act, noting also that all Modern Slavery Statements are published on the Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements.

Key things to address in second round statements

In addition to the ABF guidance outlined above, we recommend that entities address the following in their second statements:

  • any direct feedback the entity received from the ABF regarding its first statement;
  • how the entity is committed to continuous improvement in this area;
  • more detail about the nature, context and extent of modern slavery risks in relation to the entity’s supply chains; and
  • the mandatory criteria in section 16 of the Modern Slavery Act.

Upcoming changes to the Act

The Modern Slavery Act is due to be reviewed in January 2022, so reporting entities should expect changes to modern slavery reporting requirements within the next year. We do not yet know what these changes are expected to entail but the Australian Government has signalled that it will consider tighter restrictions as part of a review of the Modern Slavery Act. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.

More information

If you have any queries or would like further information about this article, please contact:

Kathryn Speed
Principal
M: 0408 446 013
E: kspeed@pageseager.com.au

Ella Wade
Lawyer
T: (03) 6235 5161
E: ewade@pageseager.com.au

Published: 17 November 2021

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