NSW Modern Slavery Bill – a moment in history

There we have it, yesterday, 21 June 2018, the NSW Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Bill 2018. The first in the nation. The passage of the Bill demonstrates the State’s strong commitment to ensuring that modern slavery does not play a part in NSW, and overseas.

While the Bill introduces new offences for cybersex trafficking, forced marriages of children and other slavery-like conduct, the Bill also seeks to achieve supply chain transparency by requiring commercial organisations with turnovers of more than $50 million to prepare an annual public modern slavery statement, with penalties for non-compliance.  As part of this Bill government agency procurement will be required to report on the effectiveness of due diligence processes in ensuring that the procurement of goods and services by government agencies are not the product of modern slavery.

Small medium enterprises are given an 18month grace period to comply with the Bill.

The Modern Slavery Bill provides for the appointment of an independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, with responsibilities that include supply chain risk monitoring and advice, the development of codes of practice, and broader community awareness-raising. One of the Commissioner’s roles will include maintaining a freely-available public register which records whether organisations have disclosed that their goods or services are potential products of supply chains involving modern slavery (including whether any remedial steps have been taken).

The Bill contains provisions for courts to make orders prohibiting certain conduct. Contravention of an order, without reasonable excuse, is an offence attracting pecuniary penalties and/or imprisonment.

The bottom line for companies and service providers in NSW – whether you are impacted by the threshold level or are a supplier to government (in this case, including local government) – you will be required to report on your modern slavery management activities. Failure to do so could result, in penalties or damage to brand and reputation.

The implication for companies will grow as the Government contemplates a Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill, due to be presented to Parliament soon.

Zoic has been involved in the development of human rights management frameworks in Asia Pacific, and are currently providing advice in NSW in developing modern slavery management programmes. Contact ask@zoic.com.au for more details on our capabilities.

Job Vacancy – Land Contamination Environmental Scientist / Engineer

Zoic is growing and would like to add an experienced Contaminated Land Consultant

We are looking for an energetic, self-motivated consultant with tertiary qualifications in environmental science/engineering and between 3-5 years contaminated land consulting experience.  You must be a believer in the team philosophy, to work together to achieve exceptional results for our Clients.

The role will comprise a balance of fieldwork and office based tasks, along with the opportunity to manage projects, interact with clients and train others. You will have the opportunity to work with and learn from senior consultants and Site Auditors.

The successful applicant will be rewarded with a salary commensurate of your level of experience along with additional external and internal professional development opportunities.

Interested?

Please send your CV to admin@zoic.com.au

 

Site Auditor obligations for review and reporting on Waste Disposal as outlined in the Updated Site Auditor Guidelines (Nov 2017)

The updated NSW EPA (2017) Guidelines for the NSW Site Auditor Scheme (3rd Edition), released in November 2017, requires Auditors to check, report on and inform EPA of any non-compliance regarding waste classification and disposal. Non-compliances may trigger an investigation by NSW EPA, and may result in fines.

From our experience, Contractors may argue that the guideline has just been released in November 2017, and that they do not have these obligations for waste generated prior to November 2017. However, the updated November 2017 guidelines outline Auditor obligations to check and report, and the requirement for waste classification has been in place since 1999 (with the current guideline being the NSW EPA Waste Classification Guidelines, 2014)

Section 4.3.7 of NSW EPA (2017) guidelines requires:

  • Waste is classified in accordance with the Waste Classification Guidelines – Part 1: Classifying Waste (EPA, 2014) and the waste is taken to a facility that is lawfully able to receive that waste; and
  • In relation to reuse for land application purposes, they must ensure their waste meets the requirements of the resource recovery order and resource recovery exemption network.

EPA also states that consultants must assist in complying with the order and exemption and must ensure their work complies with all the requirements of the Waste Guidelines, and the relevant order and exemption. It is an offence to supply information about waste that is false or misleading.

Waste Classification

With regards to waste classification, Auditor must check consultant/waste generator:

  • Has assessed the waste against the relevant step(s) of the Waste Guidelines.
  • Has provided adequate justification for the determined classification of the waste.

If Auditor is not satisfied with waste classification and waste is still onsite, the Auditor must suggest that further work is undertaken to ensure appropriate waste classification.

If Auditor is not satisfied with waste classification and waste has already left the site, the Auditor must note this in the site audit report and notify the EPA.

Waste Disposal and Recycling

With regards to waste disposal, Auditor must check:

  • If the waste is taken to a facility licensed by the EPA for waste disposal, the facility’s environment protection licence (EPL) must show it can lawfully receive that waste. A waste facility licensed by the EPA does not necessarily mean it can lawfully receive a class of waste for disposal.
  • If the waste is taken for processing to a facility licensed by the EPA, that waste must meet the ‘limit conditions’ for that waste in the EPL.
  • If the waste facility is not licensed by the EPA, the facility must have consent from the appropriate regulatory authority to receive that waste for its waste activities.
  • The estimated volume of waste taken off site
  • Waste disposal receipts (with volume and class of waste)
  • Reconciliation documents demonstrating total volume of waste taken offsite is consistent with the total volume of waste generated from the site.

EPA Notification

Where an Auditor is not satisifed the waste has been taken to a lawful facility, the Auditor must note this in the SAR and notify the EPA (Director of Waste Compliance) for the following items:

  • Where an Auditor is not satisfied the waste has been taken to a lawful facility
  • Where an Auditor is not satisfied with the classification of the waste, and the waste has been moved offsite
  • Where the Auditor suspects that waste received on the audit site from off site does not meet the definition of VENM, or the conditions of an order
  • Where the auditor suspects that waste from the audit site does not meet the definition of VENM or the conditions of an order, and has been supplied to another site for land application

How Can Zoic Assist You?

  • Preparation of appropriate waste classification documents
  • Waste tracking and collation of information to include in a Validation Report
  • Our Site Auditors have an efficient system in checking compliance to the guidelines. If engaged early on in the process, we will be able to provide advice on efficient waste tracking for your contractors and consultants to minimise potential occurrence of waste non-compliances, which require notification to EPA.

Guidelines for the NSW Site Auditor Scheme (3rd edition) officially released.

The Guidelines for the NSW Site Auditor Scheme (3rd edition)  have been officially released.

They are available on the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/contaminated-land/site-auditor-scheme/updated-site-auditor-scheme-guidelines.

Notable changes include:

  1. Auditors obligations regarding waste – reporting to EPA any irregularities
  2. Auditors obligations regarding Duty to Report contamination
  3. EMP and certainty on enforceability and notification
  4. Changes to the SAS form

NSW EPA has instructed Auditors that there is no transition period and all current and future Audits must be completed in accordance with the new publication.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with Zoic.

Does Modern Slavery impact Small Medium Companies?

In February 2017, Australia commenced an inquiry looking to implementing a Modern Slavery Act. Recent forums indicate the Australian Modern Slavery Act would likely contain similar requirements to  the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Although the UK Modern Slavery Act only requires companies with an annual turnover of £36M or more to publish an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement, these statements must set out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in their business or in any of their supply chains.  As the larger companies are required by law to report and remediate against modern slavery within their supply chain, SMEs which supply to these companies are invariably also caught up with these requirements.

A 2016 survey by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain found that majority (61%) UK SMEs were unaware of the Modern Slavery Act’s impact on their business.  With 67% of SMEs never having taken any steps to tackle the issue, 75% of SMEs would not know what to do if modern slavery was found in their supply chains.

What should smaller business do?

Actions of smaller business will depend on the complexity of their sector and supply chains. A good step will be for SMEs to conduct their own supply chain reviews and identify areas that are at most risk, and implement mitigation and monitoring measures. High risk sectors such as agriculture, fast moving consumer goods, construction and electronics manufacturing will require more auditing and monitoring.

Other practical measures may include:

  1. Map your supply chains to understand where there is highest risk and exposure to modern slavery.
  2. Prioritise and implement remedial measures required to manage and monitor modern slavery risk in your supply chain and business practices.
  3. Complete site inspections and develop due diligence processes for your supply chain
  4. Provide training to employees and local suppliers on modern slavery risks and compliance
  5. Review recruitment practices to ensure legal compliance to prevent labour exploitation
  6. Review supplier contracts and include obligations to comply with the Modern Slavery Act
  7. Publish a statement outlining the steps you are taking to tackle modern slavery.
  8. Consider development and communication of a modern slavery policy

The risk of not being prepared will result in greater scrutiny of your operations by larger companies, which could impact your business economically and operationally and result in reputational damage. Reviewing your operations for the risk of modern slavery could assist in placing your organisation in a preferred supplier position to larger companies.

Should you require assistance or more information in understanding how a Modern Slavery Act will impact your business and to prepare your business to meet future client requirements, please contact cheng.phang@zoic.com.au