Regulatory Outlook

Modern slavery | UK Regulatory Outlook May 2024

Published on 31st May 2024

European Parliament adopts position on forced labour regulation | Modern Slavery Act 2015: statement registry updated | Regulations to eradicate modern slavery in NHS supply chains to be delayed by general election

European Parliament adopts position on forced labour regulation

The European Parliament has adopted its position on the regulation to prohibit products made with forced labour going on the EU market. Under the regulation, Member State authorities and the European Commission will be able to investigate suspicious goods, supply chains and manufacturers. Investigative decisions will be based on factual and verifiable information that, for example, can be received from international organisations, cooperating authorities and whistleblowers.

If a product is deemed to have been manufactured using forced labour, it will be prohibited from being sold on the EU market (including online) and products will be seized at EU borders. If evidence can be provided to authorities that forced labour has been eliminated, then the product may be able to return to the EU market.

The text now needs to undergo linguistic review, after which the new European Parliament will need to adopt the text again (likely to be in September 2024, after the June elections). After this, the Council will then formally adopt the text. EU countries will have to start implementing the rules within three years of its entry into force.

Modern Slavery Act 2015: statement registry updated

The Home Office published, on 26 April, a press release announcing that it has updated the registry for statements required by section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Section 54 requires large businesses to produce a statement each year highlighting the steps they have taken to ensure that their business and supply chains are free of modern slavery, or a statement that they have taken no steps to do this.

Companies can add their statement to the registry – alongside publishing it on their websites – which allows people to search for an organisation's statement. The use of the registry is currently voluntary. The registry has been updated to encourage businesses to upload their annual modern slavery statements and the changes are as follows:

  • One-off email notification to registered companies who have not uploaded a statement since the registry was launched in 2021.
  • Email reminders to registered companies every year to prompt them to submit their latest annual statement. If companies have not yet uploaded their annual statement, they will first receive a reminder one month before the deadline; a further reminder will then be sent two weeks before the deadline and a final reminder one week before the deadline.
  • Changes to the statement summary pages and search pages to clearly show how many of the recommended sections a company has completed on the registry.

While using the register is not required under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, businesses should consider whether the wish to use it.

Regulations to eradicate modern slavery in NHS supply chains to be delayed by general election

As reported in our March issue, the government announced its plans to introduce regulations to eradicate modern slavery in NHS supply chains, which are required under the Health and Care Act 2022. While there were reports that these had been drafted, they had not yet been introduced into Parliament and so due to the calling of the general election and dissolution of Parliament, these can no longer be brought forward and it will be for the newly-elected government to introduce the regulations.

CSDDD receives final vote

Please see ESG.


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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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