The New Zealand Government is seeking public feedback on new legislation that aims to address modern slavery and worker exploitation. The legislation is designed to promote lasting cultural change and to encourage better practice throughout the operations and supply chains of New Zealand’s organisations.
The New Zealand Government proposes a tiered approach based on the size of companies. All organisations will be required to report any modern slavery or worker exploitation they find within their supply chain, whether that be in New Zealand or overseas. Medium sized organisations will be required to disclose to the public the steps they have taken to combat slavery and exploitation. Meanwhile, large organisations will be required to undertake due diligence, and prevent and mitigate any modern slavery risk within their supply chain.
The Government has not yet specified what size of organisation will be classified as ‘small’, ‘medium’, or ‘large’. If passed, the legislation will be accompanied by extensive promotion, guidance, and support for all entities involved. 
There is an increasing pressure for countries to implement modern slavery legislation. The United Kingdom and Australia are key trading partners of New Zealand, and both countries have introduced Modern Slavery Acts in recent years.
New Zealand plans to follow in these footsteps, and in 2021 the Government committed to a ‘Plan of Action against Forced Labour, People Trafficking and Slavery’ (The Plan). The Government has supported The Plan with $50 million NZD in funding and a framework of legislation, policy, and operational changes that will be implemented over the next five years.
The initial focus of The Plan will be to reduce the exploitation of temporary migrant workers in domestic industries such as agriculture, forestry, and mining. The Government will work towards providing migrant workers with visas to help them leave exploitative situations quickly and legally, without having to return to their native country.
The Government has invited victims, survivors, organisations, and individuals to participate in the consultation. The online consultation includes questions on the impact of modern slavery, how legislation could be implemented, and its potential cost to businesses. It can be taken via online survey or sent in by written submission, and will be open to the public until 7th June 2022.
If your business is based in New Zealand, or carries out operations in the country, we recommend you contribute to the consultation on modern slavery and worker exploitation.
Please feel free to contact us if you require guidance or support to implement modern slavery due diligence.