Business, Government and NGOs join to end Modern Slavery and Worker Exploitation

Workplace Relations and Safety

The Government is taking steps to protect vulnerable workers, strengthen trade and champion human rights through new proposals released today.

“New Zealanders have a growing awareness around the issue of worker exploitation and modern slavery in supply chains, and they expect that the goods and services they purchase in New Zealand are not contributing to this harm. That’s why today we are publishing proposed legislative options to help prevent modern slavery and worker exploitation,” says Michael Wood.

“Treating people fairly is the New Zealand way and these proposals highlight how we can develop solutions to slavery and worker exploitation, in our domestic and international supply chains. This will support human rights in a transparent and sustainable way.

“These proposal also deliver on a 2020 Election Manifesto to explore the implementation of modern slavery legislation in New Zealand to eliminate exploitation in supply chains.

“Included in the proposals is a requirement for organisations to take action if they become aware of modern slavery or worker exploitation. In addition, large organisations will be required to undertake due diligence to prevent, mitigate and remedy modern slavery and worker exploitation.

“We’ve worked closely with businesses, non-governmental organisations, unions and academics through our advisory group chaired by Rob Fyfe. These proposals will drive meaningful change.

“Many of our international trading partners already have modern slavery legislation, and New Zealand now needs to join others showing global leadership on these important issues.

“Increasingly international partners expect New Zealand to be taking action on these issues. It is the right thing to do, it is consistent with kiwi values, and it will benefit our trade and international relationships.

“While modern slavery and worker exploitation may appear limited in New Zealand, we know the hidden nature of these crimes means vulnerable people are less likely, or able, to seek help or report their experience. That’s why we need to ensure we have adequate protections in place.

“This transformative work has been a high priority for the Government and has wide reaching impact. I feel confident that New Zealand will join our partners in the global solution to this serious issue,” said Michael Wood.

Consultation on the proposals has opened today and submissions can be made until 7 June 2022.