Organisations with NZ$20 million or more in annual revenue will be required to report on modern slavery and worker exploitation risks in their operations and supply chains, as well as actions taken to prevent, mitigate and remediate those risks.
The annual statement must be approved by the organisation’s board or governing body.
Organisations must share information about all levels of their operations and supply chains.
A digital register will be set up to ensure transparency, which is accessible to the public. This helps keep businesses accountable.
Penalties will be introduced for non-compliance, including failing to submit a statement or providing false information.
Walk Free welcomes the commitment to achieving greater freedom, fairness, and dignity for workers.
This is an excellent first step in taking action to fight modern slavery and worker exploitation in supply chains.
An estimated 50 million people were living in modern slavery on any given day in 2021, according to the Global Slavery Index. An estimated 8,000 people were living in New Zealand.
The proposed law requires companies and other organisations to report on modern slavery risks, but does not actually require them to take steps to address those risks.
We believe the law should require organisations to conduct due diligence to identify and address modern slavery risks, and to take action if they identify cases.
The government has indicated it will develop proposals for these stronger due diligence and “take action” obligations at a later stage.
The law will be similar to Australia and the UK with organisations required to report on actions to address risks.
The New Zealand law will be stronger because it will have:
However, the law does not measure up to laws introduced in countries such as France, Germany, Norway and the EU which include due diligence obligations as well as the reporting requirements.
The next stage involves drafting the legislation, which is expected to take about 6 months.
The Bill will then be introduced to Parliament for debate. Once passed, it will mark a significant step towards more responsible practices.