In Singapore, there have been no significant developments over the past year in the legal landscape regarding modern slavery issues and other business human rights obligations.
The main legislation targeting modern slavery in Singapore is the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014 (PHTA). The PHTA criminalises forced labour, and sex and labour trafficking. However, unlike the English Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth), the PHTA does not contain a reporting requirement for business organizations that operate in Singapore.
Since 2016, all companies listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) must prepare a sustainability report on a “comply or explain” basis, which includes, among others, material environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors that affect the issuer’s performance and prospects, and a minimal description of how issuers manage the material factors identified. In a guidance published in June 2016, SGX outlined that the definition of social factors may encompass health and safety, employment practices and labour rights such as collective bargaining, as well as product responsibility, anti-corruption and supplier assessments. The sustainability reports of some SGX-listed companies include human rights disclosure, although such disclosure is not mandatory.
What do you predict for 2021?
At present, there is no indication of any major legislative changes to modern slavery laws and the business human rights regime in Singapore.