Modern Slavery: Guidance on Publishing Statements on Websites

October 29, 2015

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 imposes a series of obligations on organisations (see David Lowe’s article here). Among those obligations is a requirement to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement and include a link on the home page of its website. That requirement has effect from 29 October (but note theimportant transitional provision). See also SI 2015/1833. The Home Office has now published practical guidance on a range of issues that arise under the Act and the guidance on publication on a website is set out below.

8.1 The Act requires each organisation to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement on their website and include a link in a prominent place on its homepage. The purpose of this measure is to increase transparency and it is vital that the statement can be easily accessible by anyone who wants to see it – the public, consumers, employees, NGOs or investors. For organisations with no website, a copy of the statement is to be provided to anyone who requests one in writing. The copy must be provided to the requestor within 30 days of the receipt of the request, where a statement has been produced and is available.

8.2 In some instances, where there is a complex organisational structure, an organisation may have more than one outward-facing website. For organisations where there is more than one website we recommend placing the statement on the most appropriate website relating to the organisations business in the UK. Where there is more than one relevant website we recommend placing a copy of the statement or a link to the statement on each relevant website. This will increase transparency and ensure recognition for the efforts the business is making.

8.3 The Act is clear that the link must be in a prominent place on the home page itself. A prominent place may mean a modern slavery link that is directly visible on the home page or part of an obvious drop-down menu on that page. The link should be clearly marked so that the contents are apparent. We recommend a link such as ‘Modern Slavery Act Transparency Statement’.

8.4 Organisations should seek to publish their statement as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of their financial year. In practice, we would encourage organisations to report within six months of the organisation’s financial year end. Organisations may wish to publish these statements at the same time as they publish other annual accounts.

Laurence Eastham writes:

While perfectly sensible, the guidance at 8.3 seems to me to be of questionable accuracy. The fact is that Parliament went over the top in requiring the link to be in a prominent place on an organisation’s home page. A link that can be found via a dropdown menu isn’t prominent – not unless the word has been redefined overnight.

Having said that, the best advice may well be to follow the guidance at 8.3, whether it accurately reflects s 54 of the Act or not.