Proposed legislation: Modern slavery
The activities encapsulated by the term ‘modern slavery’ are, without question, reprehensible. These include slavery, forced and bonded labour, exploitation, human trafficking, and the worst forms of child labour.
In response to these abuses, the government has introduced legislation that would require that all Australian businesses with an annual revenue of more than $100 million lodge a ‘Modern Slavery Statement’.
The annual statement needs to address a range of mandatory criteria, be signed off by a member of the board of directors, and would be published on a government website.
The statement must identify the reporting entity’s structure, operations and supply chains, in addition to:
• the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains (beyond tier one suppliers) of the reporting entity and any entities it owns or controls
• actions taken to assess and address modern slavery risks including due diligence and implementing systems to remedy the incidence (such as developing policies, processes, and staff training that address modern slavery risks)
• how the reporting entity assesses the effectiveness of its actions
• a description of the consultation processes with any entities owned or controlled by the reporting entity.
Similar legislation passed through the NSW Parliament in June and largely mirrors the federal proposal with three key differences:
• entities with an annual turnover of $50 million or more must prepare a modern slavery statement every financial year
• penalties apply for failing to provide a report, failing to make a modern slavery statement public and for providing false and misleading information
• the legislation establishes an Anti-Slavery Commissioner who is, amongst other things, responsible for reporting concerning risks of modern slavery occurring in supply chains.
HIA is concerned that the proposed measures are overly complex and burdensome for residential building businesses.
While the measures propose to target those larger businesses with the capacity and capability to address and respond to risks of modern slavery in their supply chains, HIA has highlighted that the legislation will inappropriately place burdens on smaller businesses. This is because businesses within the supply chains of larger businesses will also be captured by the reporting requirements.
The draft legislation is currently being reviewed by a parliamentary senate committee and no commencement dates have been set.
HIA is working to clarify how residential builders may be impacted by the laws should they proceed.