Worldwide: Australia Proposes Modern Slavery Reporting Requirements For Multinationals – An Overview And Comparison To Existing Corporate Modern Slavery Disclosure Legislation

The Australian Government has released a consultation paper proposing the adoption of legislation that would require many multinationals operating in Australia to publicly report on modern slavery risk in their business and supply chains and their related compliance practices. "Modern slavery" includes human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labor and debt bondage, which have been found to exist to varying degrees in many supply chains across a large number of countries. If adopted, Australia would join the United Kingdom and California in adopting similar reporting requirements. In this Alert, we discuss the proposed legislation and provide a comparison to the UK and California modern slavery reporting requirements.

The Proliferation of Corporate Modern Slavery and Related Legislation

Over the last several years, legislation addressing corporate responsibility for modern slavery has been adopted in several jurisdictions. California was first out of the gate when it adopted the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, requiring companies to make disclosures concerning their efforts to address modern slavery. This Act took effect in 2012. The UK Modern Slavery Act, which was based on the California Act, was adopted in 2015 and required disclosures beginning last year. The U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation anti-human trafficking provisions, which among other things require U.S. federal contractors to put in place specified compliance procedures, also were adopted in 2015. And last year saw the repeal of the consumptive demand exception under the U.S. Tariff Act.

This year has been especially active for corporate human rights legislation. Early in the year, France adopted a corporate duty of vigilance law that requires large French companies to take steps to identify and prevent serious human rights impacts, which would include modern slavery, in their supply chains. At around the same time, the Dutch Parliament adopted child labor due diligence legislation, which is awaiting Senate approval. In addition, the Welsh Government released a Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains that businesses involved in Welsh public sector supply chains are expected to sign on to. Next year, many EU companies will begin making disclosures under the EU non-financial reporting directive, which for some companies are expected to include modern slavery-related disclosures. 

Shifting over to Australia, corporate human rights legislation has been under discussion for some time. In 2013, a Parliamentary committee recommended that the Australian Government adopt legislation to improve supply chain transparency. In 2016, a multi-stakeholder working group convened by the Government recommended that it consider adopting a modern slavery reporting requirement. Last month, on August 16, the Commonwealth Minister for Justice announced the Australian Government's proposal to enact an Australian Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement and released a Consultation Paper outlining the proposed regulation. That Paper and the public consultation process are discussed below.

The Proposed Regulation

Definition of Modern Slavery. "Modern slavery" will encompass slavery, servitude, forced labor, debt bondage and deceptive recruiting for labor or services. The Australian Government proposes that the definition incorporate conduct that would constitute a relevant offense under existing human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offense provisions contained in the Commonwealth Criminal Code. The definition will exclude practices such as forced marriage that are unlikely to be present in business operations and supply chains.

Subject Entities. The Australian Government proposes that the revenue threshold for the reporting requirement be set no lower than AUD100 million in total annual revenue (approximately USD80 million as of the date of this Alert). For purposes of its cost analysis, at this monetary threshold, the Government has assumed that approximately 2,000 large corporations and entities operating in Australia will be subject to the regulation. The regulation would allow for periodic adjustments. Entities below the threshold would be able to opt in to the reporting requirement.

The Australian Government has indicated that, in the public consultation process, it will collaborate with business and civil society to define the types of entities that the reporting requirement will apply to and to clarify how the proposed revenue threshold will apply. At this stage, the Australian Government proposes to define "entity" broadly to include a broad range of entity types, including bodies corporate, unincorporated associations or bodies of persons, superannuation funds and approved deposit funds. The Australian Government does not propose to limit the application of the reporting requirement to high risk sectors or importers.

Subject to consultation with the business community and civil society, the Australian Government anticipates the reporting requirement will apply to not only entities headquartered in Australia, but also to entities that have any part of their operations in Australia, in each case subject to the revenue threshold.

Covered Business Activities. Entities that are subject to the reporting requirement will be required to report on their actions to address modern slavery in both their operations and their supply chains. The Australian Government intends to provide detailed guidance concerning the definition of "operations" and "supply chains," in collaboration with the business community and civil society. The Australian Government notes in the Consultation Paper that it proposes that the definition of "supply chains" extend beyond first tier suppliers.

Statement Content. The Australian Government proposes that subject entities be required to report on substantially the same topics as are contained in the UK Modern Slavery Act. However, under the Modern Slavery Act, reporting on the enumerated topics is optional.

Subject to feedback received through the consultation process, the Australian Government proposes that entities be required to, at a minimum, report against a consolidated set of four mandatory criteria:

  • the entity's structure, operations and supply chains;
  • the modern slavery risks present in its operations and supply chains;
  • the entity's policies and process to address modern slavery in its operations and supply chains (such as codes of conduct, supplier contract terms and training for staff) and their effectiveness; and
  • the entity's due diligence processes relating to modern slavery in its operations and supply chains and their effectiveness.

The Consultation Paper indicates that entities will have the flexibility to determine what, if any, information they provide against each of the four criteria and whether to include any additional information. The Australian Government intends to provide detailed guidance concerning the nature and extent of the information that should be included in statements.

Approval Requirements. Statements will be required to be approved at the equivalent of the board level and signed by a director.

Statement Publication. Entities will be required to publish their statements on their website. Subject to feedback obtained through the consultation process, the Australian Government also proposes to provide for a free, publicly accessible and searchable central repository.

Reporting Due Date. The Australian Government proposes that entities be required to publish modern slavery statements within five months after the end of the Australian financial year. The Consultation Paper indicates that, if necessary, the Australian Government will provide for a phased introduction of the reporting requirement to ensure the business community has sufficient preparation time.

Compliance Mechanism; Penalties. The regulation would not include punitive penalties for non-compliance. However, the Consultation Paper indicates that the Australian Government will monitor general compliance with the reporting requirement and entities that do not comply may be subject to public criticism.

The Australian Government also is considering options for oversight of the reporting requirement, including the feasibility of and requirement for independent oversight. In addition, the Australian Government is considering ways to support business groups and civil society to undertake analysis and benchmarking of modern slavery statements.

Subsequent Review of the Legislation. The Australian Government proposes to review the legislation three years after its introduction. The review will include further public consultation. The Australian Government also will establish a mechanism for the business community to provide feedback to the Government pertaining to the operation and effectiveness of the reporting requirement. Consumers and civil society also will be consulted.

A Comparison to Existing Corporate Modern Slavery Legislation

The table below provides a high-level comparison of the proposed Australian regulation, the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. Australian modern slavery reporting requirements are expected to be further fleshed out in draft legislation during 2018. For additional information on the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, see our earlier publications here, here, here and here. Additional publications and source materials are available on our Supply Chain Compliance & Corporate Social Responsibility website.


United Kingdom


Subject Companies 

To be defined broadly; not limited to high risk sectors or importers

Supplier of goods or services, including a trade or profession

Manufacturer or retailer

Annual Turnover Threshold

Not lower than AUD100 million, subject to periodic adjustment

£36 million

USD100 million

Jurisdictional Nexus

Entities headquartered in Australia or having any part of their operations in Australia

Doing business in the United Kingdom

California Revenue and Taxation Code

Covered Business Activities

The subject entity's operations and supply chains

Any of the subject entity's supply chains, and any part of its own business

Direct supply chain for tangible goods offered for sale

Statement Content

(Substantially similar across all three jurisdictions)

Required topics

Suggested topics

Required topics


Website; potentially also a central repository

Website, with a prominent homepage link, or upon written request

Website, with a conspicuous and easily understood homepage link, or upon written request

Signature/Board Approval







Not specified; on an as-needed basis

Due Date

Within five months after the end of the Australian financial year, potentially subject to a phased introduction 

No mandatory due date; recommended within six months after fiscal year end

Not specified

Next Steps 

The Australian Government is holding a public consultation process with the business community and civil society to refine its proposal. The Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department is leading this process. Written submissions can be made through October 20, 2017. A series of stakeholder roundtables also will be convened during the remainder of 2017.

The reporting requirement will be established through a new Act of Parliament. Taking into account feedback provided during the consultation process, the Minister for Justice proposes to seek to bring forward draft legislation in the first half of 2018. As noted earlier in this Alert, the legislation may include a phase-in period to allow businesses additional time to prepare their first annual statement.

Thoughts on the Proposed Legislation and the Continuing Evolution of Modern Slavery Compliance

There Isn't Much for Multinationals to Do Now under the Proposed Legislation, but There Are a Couple of Near-Term Action Items to Consider 

At this point, it is premature for multinationals to begin preparing for compliance with Australian modern slavery legislation. Many details remain to be worked out through the ongoing public consultation and the legislative process to follow. In addition, aspects of the legislation may change from what is described in the Consultation Paper, with some NGOs and other constituencies continuing to advocate for a more expansive approach. Finally, the timing of both the adoption of legislation and the due date of the first statements remain unknown.

With that said, there are two nearer-term action items to consider. The more immediate action item is to consider whether to participate in the consultation process. As noted earlier in this Alert, submissions can be made through October 20, 2017. This is something that larger multinationals should consider, either individually or through their trade associations, given their substantial experience reporting under existing corporate modern slavery legislation.

The second action item is to determine which entities in the consolidated group may be subject to the proposed legislation, and whether those entities present modern slavery risks that may require different disclosures and/or compliance procedures than other group companies already publishing modern slavery statements.

The Proposed Australian Modern Slavery Legislation Will Accelerate the Movement Toward Combined Disclosure Statements 

Many multinationals that are subject to both the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act already have opted to prepare a single combined statement to address both requirements, since this tends to be more efficient and substantive modern slavery compliance procedures typically are the same across the consolidated group. With potentially three jurisdictions at issue, we expect most of the remaining holdouts to move over time to combined statements.

Notwithstanding the trend toward combined statements, at many multinationals, responsibility for CSR disclosures remains spread out across functions, business units and geographies. With the increase in mandatory human rights disclosures on modern slavery and other topics, and potentially more on the way in addition to Australia, this approach is becoming unwieldy and is in some instances creating risk. We are already starting to see more multinationals move global responsibility for modern slavery and other human rights-related disclosures into a single team and expect this trend to continue as well.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind – Mandatory Disclosures Are Only One Piece of Modern Slavery Compliance 

As articulated in both the Consultation Paper and previously by the UK Home Office, modern slavery disclosure requirements are intended to create a "race to the top." NGOs and other stakeholders already have published several expectations documents and assessments and rankings of California and UK modern slavery disclosures and company compliance practices, and we expect to see these continue to spring up like wildflowers after a rainstorm. In addition, companies are benchmarking their modern slavery disclosures and compliance programs against those of peers and competitors. These factors – along with greater awareness of modern slavery, more supply chain transparency and an increasing focus on ethical sourcing generally – will continue to drive enhancements to compliance programs and disclosures, well beyond what is required by California, UK or Australian legislation, for the foreseeable future.

About Our Supply Chain Compliance and Corporate Social Responsibility Practice

Ropes & Gray has a leading Supply Chain Compliance and Corporate Social Responsibility practice. With team members in the United States, Europe and Asia, we are able to take a holistic, global approach to supply chain compliance and CSR. Senior members of the practice have advised on these matters for almost 30 years, enabling us to provide a long-term perspective that few firms can match.

For further information on the practice, click here.

Click here to visit our Supply Chain Compliance and CSR website.

To join our Supply Chain Compliance and CSR mailing list, click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions