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Modern Slavery in Procurement

Dr Vijay Sangam, 13:43, 07 Jul 2021

Modern slavery describes situations where coercion, threats, or deception exploit victims and undermine or deprive them of their freedom. 

Defining modern slavery in the context of business is complex. Global problems transpiring in various firms vary from organisation to organisation.  The fact is that it exists, and facts prove it. According to one estimate, over 40 million people are affected. In Australia, it’s estimated that over 3,000 people are forced into labor.  Across the world, 25 million people are forced to work through coercion, threats, or other forms of restraint, such as financial. In Australia, sexual exploitation is more common.  According to an Australian Federal Police (AFP) estimate, sexual exploitation represents 30 percent of all cases in Australia.

Australian government enacted legislation on 1 January 2019. And certain entities are expected to report modern slavery-related offenses periodically. The first reporting period for most Australian businesses is due from 1 July up to 31 December 2020.

A Glimpse

In the Australian environment, the following is considered an offense under the Criminal Code, the following offenses are considered modern slavery.

  • Slavery
  • Servitude
  • Forced labor
  • Deceptive recruiting for labor or services
  • Forced marriage
  • Trafficking in persons
  • Domestic trafficking
  • Child trafficking
  • Organ trafficking
  • Debt bondage.

  Indicators of Modern Slavery:

  • Unlawful withholding of wages
  • Withholding identity documents
  • Excessive work hours and restriction of movement
  • Deducting excessive fees for remuneration
  • Inflated loans to be paid back to the employer.


With each of the above offenses carrying varying degrees of penalty, including four to twenty-five years imprisonment.

What can be done to prevent it?

  1. Check if your entity is required to report.  This is a starting point to identify impending business risk if any.
  2. Your procurement policy should explicitly state organisation’s stand on ‘Modern Slavery and approved by the Board.   The statement must respond  to the six mandatory criteria such as Organisation structure, Policy statement, Due diligence processes, Identify the risk and treating, KPIs to measure modern slavery avoidance, and last but not the least organisation wise training.
  3. Be transparent and publish your modern slavery statement on your website.
  4. No process is perfect; assess areas of improvement, develop an implementation project plan.

Collective Responsibility:

Collectively all within the organisation recognise and be responsible global citizens in preventing modern slavery.

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