Lately, I’ve been developing a range of modern slavery reporting resources for Australian labour hire and workforce services providers. Amongst the materials provided by the Commonwealth government, I came across this piece of guidance, which had me scratching my head:
Under the Act reporting entities are not required to report on modern slavery risks associated with how their customers use the products or services they purchase. For example, a mining company is not required to report on whether the overseas smelter that purchases its ore uses forced labour. Similarly, landlords and lessors are not required to report on modern slavery risks associated with the operations and supply chains of lessees.Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018: Guidance for Reporting Entities, p.34
So, I asked the Border Force Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit if it had a view on how that piece of guidance might be applied to labour hire and workforce services providers.
You will see the issue, immediately. Labour hire providers supply workers. So, the use to which customers put those workers may have a direct impact on risks of exposure to modern slavery practices.
The Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit was great. They got back to me straight away. Here is their reply:
We would expect that labour hire agencies required to report under the Modern Slavery Act address possible modern slavery risks associated with the use of workers they provide to other businesses in their modern slavery statements. These workers are usually employees of the labour hire agency and their provision to other businesses forms part of the labour hire agency’s operations.Reply 2 November 2020
So, if you are a labour hire or workforce services provider, it seems that will need to give some thought to whether your customers’ use of your workers might expose them to the risk of modern slavery practices, and you’ll need to report about that.
Andrew C. Wood