One year on from changes to modern slavery legislation are businesses still at risk from non-compliance? Mike Edmunds discusses where companies can improve

A lot has changed in the last 12 months. Before Brexit became Theresa May’s main focus, one of the UK prime minister’s final acts as home secretary was to introduce stricter measures against Modern Slavery, in the form of the Transparency in Supply Chain Provisions clause.

Getting clarity on the clause

The changes meant any company operating in the UK, with a turnover over £36 million, must disclose all the steps they are taking to ensure modern slavery and human trafficking does not take place in any part of the business. This applies to the entire supply chain, including monitoring the suppliers of their suppliers too – creating a whole new level of complexity.[1]

The government stated that it was no longer acceptable for any organisation to claim it did not know or simply ignore the issue, with the measures aiming to increase competition and drive up standards[2]. The foodservice industry is particularly at risk, with a huge number of suppliers needing to be audited as part of compliance assessments. Many companies are using manual or semi-manual systems to manage their supplier databases, forcing an administrative burden on to supply chain and procurement teams.

Using technology to find a solution

Having an inefficient and ineffective system in place can make complying to supply chain laws more difficult than needs be. As such, an increasing number of companies are investing in central data monitoring solutions, such as Supplier Information Management software (SIM), in order to simplify the auditing process.

Trade Interchange’s ARCUS® SIM is specifically designed to improve the way supplier-related risks are managed. Suppliers are required to complete tailored, comprehensive questionnaires and upload documents to support accreditation and audits, which collect the information that consultants need to know. By placing the onus on suppliers to complete the detailed surveys, businesses can help reduce the time and effort spent collating the information. Automated reporting systems can help to ensure complete compliance on issues such as meeting the Modern Slavery Act requirements, with the added benefit of a single dashboard giving an ‘at-a-glance’ overview of progress.

The consequences of non-compliance

By not complying with the laws around modern slavery foodservice consultants run the risk of placing a spotlight on their clients’ entire supply chain. With recent research showing 66% of consumers claim they would stop buying from a brand or business if they learnt that its production used modern slavery[3], companies are well advised to put processes in place to avoid such a damaging reputational hit. However, compliance is far more than a due diligence matter, since the legislation itself states that failure to comply could result in an unlimited fine.

While an unlimited fine is undoubtedly a worst-case scenario, businesses seen to be tackling modern slavery could, according to a government guide, also benefit from an improved customer base, as an increasing number of consumers seek out businesses with higher ethical standards, improved investor confidence and more responsive, stable and innovative supply chains.

Slavery may seem like a far cry from the UK, however for larger operators in the hospitality industry, it is an issue with the potential to keep CEOs and directors awake at night as they review their legal corporate responsibilities. It’s therefore important for consultants to be aware of not only the potential implications but also have efficient and effective solutions in place to combat them.

Mike Edmunds is co-founder and managing director of Trade Interchange, a leading Supplier Information Management software provider


For more information on complying with the Modern Slavery Act in the Foodservice Sector download Trade Interchange’s specialist guide at

[1] Slavery and trafficking prevention orders (part 2, s14-s22) and slavery and trafficking risk orders (part 2, s23-s22)

[2] Transparency in Supply Chains, A Practical Guide, 2015

[3] YouGov, Walk Free Foundation – Modern Slavery, 11 March 2015

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