The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) commenced 1 January 2019 and introduced mandatory reporting requirements for larger companies to address the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.

The Commonwealth Government responded to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a temporary extension to the reporting deadlines under the Modern Slavery Act. Reporting entities with a financial year ending on 31 March 2020 have until the end of the year to lodge modern slavery statements. Entities that follow the Australian financial year have until 31 March 2021 to lodge modern slavery statements.

Modern Slavery Act and COVID-19

Although the Modern Slavery Act's mandatory reporting obligations only apply to organisations operating in Australia with annual revenues over $100 million - roughly 3,000 organisations - the Modern Slavery Act's impacts extend much further. If a business has any dealings with these large organisations, directly or through a third party, its own supply chain may come under scrutiny.

Due to the spread of COVID-19, the Australian Border Force announced extensions of time for businesses that are required to submit modern slavery statements. The table below sets out the new deadlines:

Reporting entities should consider how factory shutdowns, order cancellations and supply chain disruptions resulting from COVID-19 might have affected vulnerable workers in their supply chains and operations. View Cooper Grace Ward's Modern slavery - uncovering and preventing the risks in your supply chain pre-recorded webinar for more information.

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