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Modern Slavery and Worker Exploitation – Government seeks feedback on proposed new laws

Written by Darryl King, PARTNER; David Alizade, PARTNER on April 11th, 2022.    

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 Modern Slavery and Worker Exploitation - Government seeks   feedback on proposed new laws

April 2022


As part of the Government’s action plan against forced labour, people trafficking, and slavery that was launched last year, the Government is seeking feedback on new legislation that aims to address modern slavery and worker exploitation in New Zealand and elsewhere. The new laws will require all businesses to take steps, with larger organisations having more responsibilities.

As all businesses will be affected, we encourage all of our clients to consider the impact of the proposals, and to consider making a submission.

Addressing modern slavery and worker exploitation in New Zealand is both the right thing to do, and overdue. If you are not already taking steps to address modern slavery and worker exploitation in your business and supply chain, then perhaps when you have surfaced from the challenges of confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, you may wish to start addressing these issues within your business and supply chain. 


The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are up to 25 million people around the world who work in conditions of modern slavery. New Zealand is not immune from modern slavery and worker exploitation issues both in New Zealand and in New Zealand business’ supply chains.  

The Government has been committed for some time to addressing modern slavery and worker exploitation.  Last year the Government issued an action plan against forced labour, people trafficking, and slavery. As part of that plan, the government is now proposing a set of graduated responsibilities for all organisations in New Zealand with the aim to address modern slavery and worker exploitation both in New Zealand and internationally.

what is proposed?

Set out below is information from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Discussion Document which can be found here.

Key concepts

In the Discussion Document MBIE defines modern slavery and Exploitation as follow:

Modern slavery broadly reflects exploitative situations that a person cannot leave due to threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power. We are proposing that modern slavery be defined as including the legal concepts of forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery and slavery like practices, and human trafficking.


Exploitation can be seen generally as behaviour that causes, or increases the risk of, material harm to the economic, social, physical or emotional well-being of a person. We are proposing that worker exploitation be defined as including non-minor breaches of New Zealand employment standards. This excludes minor and insignificant breaches that are not constant and easily remedied.

What types of entities will be affected and how?

The Government is proposing a graduated set of responsibilities. Larger organisations – by revenue – will be required to do more.  Entities with significant control over another New Zealand entity (including parent companies, some head contractors, and franchisors) will also be required to do more.

What responsibilities and obligations will apply?

MBIE’s high level summary of the proposed responsibilities is set out below:
Screenshot 2022-04-11 190947-966
Source: MBIE

further information

For further information please see MBIE’s Consultation on Modern Slavery and Worker Exploitation landing page.  

We are providing submissions for other organisations. Please let us know if you would like help with understanding the implications of the proposals, or to made a submission.


when are submissions due?

Submissions are due on 7 June 2022.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice.  It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

All rights reserved © Jackson Russell 2022


Darryl King Publications
Darryl King, 
David Alizade Publications
David Alizade,


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