Slavery and human trafficking in the UK — overview

LexisNexis Legal & Professional, LexisNexis UK, LexisPSL, Risk and Compliance, May 16th, 2022
Catherine Innes

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015) requires some organisations to produce and publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement.

What is slavery?
MSA 2015 covers four activities which are defined by reference to article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights :


Exercising powers of ownership over a person


An obligation to provide services is imposed by the use of coercion

Forced or compulsory labour

Work or services are exacted from a person under the menace of any penalty and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily

Human trafficking

Arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to their exploitation

Slavery and human trafficking statement
A slavery and human trafficking statement should set out:

  • the steps you have taken during the financial year to ensure slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any part of your supply chains or your own business, or
  • that you have taken no such steps

The requirement to publish a statement applies to organisations meeting all of the following criteria:

  • commercial organisation—the definition appears to catch companies, limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and standard partnerships, but not sole traders
  • supplying goods or services
  • carrying on business in the UK
  • with a total turnover of £36m or more


There is no need for an organisation to be registered in the UK to be caught by the disclosure obligation. For multinational organisations, however, a parent may not necessarily need to report merely because a subsidiary meets the criteria. The key will be whether a non-UK parent has a demonstrable UK business presence. Practice Note: The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and multinational organisations sets out some illustrative examples of how this might work in practice.

Even if your business does not fall within the statutory requirements, MSA 2015 has pushed modern slavery issues up the corporate agenda. Your customers may still require assurances from you about your policies and procedures to ensure modern slavery does not take place and/or you may choose to publish a statement in any event.


Managing modern slavery risk
This subtopic:

  • provides guidance on key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can adopt to measure the effectiveness of your anti-slavery actions under MSA 2015, s 54, including illustrative examples of KPIs provided on a generic and sectoral basis—see Practice Note: Modern slavery—key performance indicators
  • describes what a good modern slavery and human trafficking supplier audit process looks like and provides guidance on who should conduct audits, how to prepare for and carry out an audit, and how audits should be followed up—see Practice Note: Auditing suppliers—modern slavery and human trafficking
  • contains a Checklist to help you consider what policies, practices and procedures you might implement to combat slavery and human trafficking which will then feed into your slavery and human trafficking statement, and a risk management guide to help you identify key priorities for managing modern slavery risk
  • contains various Precedents, including:


The slavery and human trafficking statement
This subtopic also contains the following Precedents relating to the slavery and human trafficking statement, including a template for the statement itself:


Training and awareness
Finally, this subtopic contains tools to help train your staff on anti-slavery and ensure they have an awareness and understanding of MSA 2015, including: