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An opportunity for impact

Recommendations for regulating modern slavery in supply chains in Aotearoa New Zealand.

By Natalia Szablewska, Rebecca Kingi, Rebekah Armstrong and Quintin Lake
11 May 2022
read time
2 min to read
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The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment is now seeking feedback on a legislative response to modern slavery in supply chains. 

Our report An opportunity for impact provides direction for a legislative design that is compliant with international developments and, at the same time, considers Aotearoa New Zealand’s geopolitical and cultural context. It is not a response to the Government’s consultation proposal, but rather an independent resource, setting out recommendations based on research and the authors’ modern slavery law and practice expertise.

The recommendations below are a resource for companies, governments, non-government organisations, academics and civil society, including to assist with submissions that these entities may wish to make as part of the national consultation process. 

Recognising the complexity of addressing modern slavery as a multifaceted societal challenge, a whole-system approach is needed. It is unlikely therefore that any of the recommendations can make a difference when viewed in isolation, and thus they need to be looked at and considered collectively.

Our recommendations

  1. Legislation addressing modern slavery should apply to all entities operating in Aotearoa New Zealand and their international and domestic supply chains, including public authorities (government), non-governmental organisations and private entities. 
  2. Transparency in domestic and international supply chains should be a key feature of the legislation. This will help to ensure that entities understand how their supply chains are operating and can more readily identify risks to people and the environment, including but not limited to modern slavery. 
  3. Aotearoa New Zealand should adopt a mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence approach, focusing on both human rights and environmental risks. This approach incorporates the requirement for transparency in supply chains, but goes beyond both in terms of the prescribed processes as well as the focus of those actions.
  4. The criteria on which entities report must be mandatory to increase clarity for entities and consistency in the standard of reporting, as well as to facilitate transparency and verification of actions taken. 
  5. The New Zealand Government should create a central public register or repository of compliance statements, and administer it to facilitate transparency, monitoring and support for peer-to-peer sharing and learning of best practices.
  6. The New Zealand Government should establish an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner role and provide for the allocation of sufficient resources to support the post and activities of a Commissioner’s office.
  7. The New Zealand Government should continue to maintain and actively engage with a Modern Slavery Advisory Group comprising of various stakeholders, including representatives of workers and survivors of modern slavery, as an integral process for implementing and developing Aotearoa New Zealand’s legislative response to modern slavery.
  8. The legislation should provide for accountability mechanisms, including financial penalties, exclusion from public tender and public listing as a non-compliant entity if entities fail to discharge obligations, including failure to adhere to mandatory reporting criteria. Centralised government enforcement frameworks must be in place and adequately resourced to monitor and respond to non-compliance.
  9. The legislation should provide remedy for workers subjected to modern slavery, including mechanisms to seek redress. There should be consideration of establishing entity liability for harms, including those committed by their subsidiaries, contractors and suppliers.
  10. The New Zealand Government should review international legislative developments regarding banning imports linked to all forms of forced labour and consider whether a similar legal tool could complement legislation addressing modern slavery for supply chains in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Read the full report

We are also holding a Modern Slavery Legislation Webinar 18 May 2022 from 7:30 p.m.

Our panel comprises experts on the UK Modern Slavery Act, the Australian Modern Slavery Act and the EU Draft Mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Directive. The panellists will speak on learnings and developments from the respective legislations and recommend what New Zealand's modern slavery legislation should encompass. Register now

Submissions on the proposed legislation are due by 7 June 2022. Find out more 

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