Home » Modern Slavery Act Update: Due to COVID-19, reporting deadlines have changed

Modern Slavery Act Update: Due to COVID-19, reporting deadlines have changed

Posted by Colin Miller | 07 April 2021 | News & Events

April 2021 UPDATE:

““With the 31 March extension of the reporting period for the Modern Slavery Act having now passed, so far less than 700 Statements have been published on the Modern Slavery Register.  This is less than half the number of companies subject to the Act’s reporting requirements,” said Nexus Group Principal Colin Miller, Those subject to the Act should be mindful that failure to publish a Statement may result in publication of non-compliance by the Minister for Home Affairs. It is also important to be aware that reporting periods for the 2021 financial year are not subject to any COVID related extension.  This means that for the majority of reporting entities who have a 30 June financial year end, the next Modern Slavery Statement is due by 31 December 2021.”


October 2020

In April 2020, the reporting deadline for entities subject to the mandatory reporting regime under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (‘MSA’) was extended by three months due to the significant impact of COVID-19.

This means that businesses who report in accordance with the Australian financial year have only six months to prepare and publish their Modern Slavery Statement (‘Statement’).

The MSA creates mandatory reporting obligations for entities that have:

  • Consolidated revenue of at least $100 million for the relevant reporting period, and which
  • Are Australian entities, or
  • Undertake business in Australia in that financial year.

The updated timelines for reporting are as follows:  

Annual financial reporting period Original reporting period under Modern Slavery Act Original date for submission of Statement Extended date for submission of Statement
1 Jul – 30 Jun
(Australian Financial Year)
1 Jul 19 – 30 Jun 20 31 Dec 20 31 Mar 21
1 Jan – 31 Dec 1 Jan 20 – 31 Dec 20 30 Jun 21 No change
1 April – 31 Mar 1 Apr 19 – 31 Mar 20 30 Sept 20 31 Dec 20

Note that the timeline extensions only apply to the current reporting period.  

Online Reporting now open

The Online Register of Modern Slavery Statements www.modernslaveryregister.gov.au is now active. This Register is managed by the Australian Border Force (a division within the Department of Home Affairs).

It is important to note that the Register is public and once a Statement is published, it can be accessed by a search of the Register.

Modern slavery reporting content needs to be reassessed due to COVID-19

The recent pandemic has forced required reporting entities who have been impacted by COVID-19 to reassess their approach and potential disclosure.

The Australian Border Force has published additional Guidance which suggests reporting entities include a discussion on the impact of COVID-19 in their Statement, including:

  • The impact on the scope of the reporting entity’s operations
  • New supply chains for additional products required due to COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment, or changes to supply chains due to COVID-19
  • How COVID-19 has changed risk profiles within the reporting entity’s operations and supply chains, e.g. COVID-19 may limit the entity’s ability to conduct in-person audits of suppliers, leading to a heightened modern slavery risk
  • The impact of COVID-19 on planned activities to address modern slavery risks, or on the reporting entity’s capacity to prepare the statement
  • The impact on the reporting entity’s ability to assess and address modern slavery risks.

Next Steps

Businesses required to report under the MSA should reassess their reporting in light of the additional Guidance. Although the three-month extension appears helpful, reporting entities should not postpone their preparations. In fact, COVID-19 is likely to have exacerbated potential areas of risk in supply chains. The methodology we recommend to address MSA reporting requirements is set out within this diagram.

Note: The MSA regime defines modern slavery to incorporate conduct that would constitute an offence under existing human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offence provisions set out in Divisions 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.  Modern slavery under the MSA therefore encompasses slavery, servitude, the worst forms of child labour, forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, slavery like practices, forced marriage and deceptive recruiting for labour or services.

How can we help: 
For additional information on the Modern Slavery Act or assistance in complying with the new deadline,
please email Nexus Group Principal Colin Miller on cam@nexuslawyers.com.au

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 This publication is © Nexus Law Group and is for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to any specific issues.

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