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Our previous articles (published on 20 September 2018, 2 April 2020 and 15 August 2019) considered the status of modern slavery legislation in Australia, at both a Commonwealth and NSW State level.
In the latter half of 2019 the NSW State Government delayed commencement of the State’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) (NSW Act) until issues, both within that Act and the draft regulations to be issued under it, had been considered by the NSW Parliament.
The NSW Standing Committee on Social Issues tabled its report on the NSW Act before Parliament on 25 March 2020, and the NSW Government is required to respond to that report by late September 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth Government has extended the time periods for entities required to lodge modern slavery statements under the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (Commonwealth Act) to do so.
The extensions are as follows:
Entities with reporting periods ending on or after 30 June 2020 (for example, who report on a calendar year basis ending 31 December 2020) are not impacted by the changes. Their deadline of 30 June 2021 to lodge their modern slavery statements remains unchanged.
The Australian Border Force has issued guidelines to entities who are subject to reporting obligations under the Commonwealth Act to assist them in assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their supply chain and their reporting obligations under the Commonwealth Act.
While the guidance issued by Australian Border Force does not alter the mandatory reporting criteria under the Commonwealth Act, it may be helpful to entities in preparing their first modern slavery statements under the Commonwealth Act.
It may also assist in providing an indication of the approach to be taken under the Commonwealth Act in assessing any statements which are lodged and which relate, at least in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic period.
The above content is commentary rather than legal advice and was prepared on the basis of applicable legislation, government programs and initiatives that were in place as of the date of publication. Given the ongoing evolution of both the COVID-19 pandemic and frequent consequential changes to the various laws and programs within all Australian states and territories, readers should seek legal advice on the current situation as applicable to their specific circumstances before taking any action in relation to the above.
For further information and assistance on the issues raised in this article please speak to the author, Tina van Epen – Partner, or your usual Moray & Agnew contact.
Tina van Epen