Following on from the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (2010) and U.K. Modern Slavery Act (2015), Australia and Hong Kong SAR are looking to enact stronger anti-slavery laws requiring business to combat modern slavery and human trafficking. Proposed new legislation from Australia and Hong Kong SAR takes the UK Modern Slavery Act as a foundation and adds some additional requirements.
In Australia, public consultation on new anti-slavery legislation concluded in October 2017. New anti-slavery laws were then recommended by the Australian parliamentary Committee, and a new anti-slavery Act is expected to pass in 2018 focussed on protecting people who are vulnerable to enslavement and tackling the forced labor risks in global supply chains.
Commenting on this new legislation, Senator Linda Reynolds said that the Australian Government will require businesses to show strong proof of actions taken to ensure that their supply chain is slavery-free. She explained that compared to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, Australia’s law will require stricter content in companies’ annual statement, and ‘…the legislation goes further by requiring public bodies as well as companies to outline what they have done to combat slavery in their supply chains’.
The Global Slavery Index has previously rated Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) 23 out of 24 in its ranking of Asian countries/territories government’s actions to tackle human trafficking because HKSAR had not taken any concrete steps to acknowledge and address the problem. Only North Korea fared worse.
New legislation is proposed which has the potential to make HK SAR a regional leader in the fight against slavery. A Draft Bill on anti-slavery was proposed to the HK SAR’s Legislative Council in November 2017. If enacted, the draft Bill would require affected companies to prepare a “slavery and human trafficking statement” each financial year. Additionally, the draft BiIl would create a host of criminal and civil offenses related to modern slavery, and would empower courts to issue orders to prevent certain persons from committing those offenses.” (16 April, 2018; LEXOLOGY)
Increasing Focus on Modern Slavery
Investors, consumers and governments are increasingly expecting businesses to perform due diligence to ensure their supply chains are modern-slavery-free, and new and stronger anti-slavery laws are approaching to enforce this.
The good news for the toy industry is that you can reference the ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) to help demonstrate your efforts to comply with human trafficking and modern slavery legislation.
IETP Certification requires that no forced or compulsory labor is employed for the benefit of private individuals, companies or associations. Factories must have a written policy on forced labor which supports the IETP requirement that no forced labor shall be used. Factories must not use bonded labor in any form”.
Toy Brands and Retailers who request IETP Certification, or undergo the process themselves of gaining Certification for their own manufacturing sites, can, therefore, cite the Ethical Toy Program certification as an example of the measures they are taking to effectively assess and ensure their supply chains against slavery and exploitation.
IETP suggests that a robust program to tackle Modern day Slavery should include the following include five steps:
- Supply chain mapping - A critical first step to drive transparency, so you know who your suppliers are. Also supports the evaluation of risk
- Initial risk assessment - This can be achieved using initial site profile information, accessible via the IETP Connect Plaform and collected when a factory registers and starts the process of obtaining IETP Certification
- Auditing - Using the Ethical Toy Program Audit methodology, check to ensure factories comply with legal and IETP standards
- Enforcement and remediation - Factories are immediately removed from IETP if they are found to have forced or bonded labour. Remediation is provided to assist any victims of forced labour
- Engagement and capability building – Engage with factories to increase awareness and understanding of modern day slavery risks in your supply chain. Use resources and support, available via IETP, to raise awareness of, and capability to tackle, modern day slavery within buying teams at brand level and management at the factory level