Worker Exploitation in Australia – A PwC and DQS Initiative

Doubling down on ‘Worker Exploitation’ in Australia

A new initiative aimed at bringing visibility to whether Australian businesses are playing fair by workers – both migrant and otherwise – has commenced ahead of the impending ‘Modern Day Slavery’ legislation on Australian businesses with over A$100 million turnover.


Sydney, Australia – 12th October 2017.


Worker exploitation and employment conditions are hot topics for business in Australia right now. The Fair Work Ombudsman has got its work cut out to maintain standards in the face of a very unpopular decision which kicked in on July 1st 2017 to cut Sunday trading penalty rates. Unions have said the move will result in a reduction in annual net salary of up to $6,000 a year for many lower-paid casual, part-time and full-time employees in affected industries such as Hospitality, Fast food, Retail, and Pharma.

In contrast to this move, the Australian Modern Day Slavery legislation is being progressed positively, likely in a format similar to that which is now law in the UK, whereby large businesses are required by law to publish a statement on their website each year to explain what they are – or are not- doing to tackle Modern Slavery both in their business and crucially in their supply chains.

The initial Modern Day Slavery consultation is complete and has gone to a second consultation before being voted upon into law. There was a very positive response from Australian businesses and NGOs on the initial consultation, indeed 173 contributions were made. And Australian audit companies are alert to the potential business need to audit manufacturers, farms and other suppliers in developing countries to manage the risk to Australian buying companies of the evidence of Modern Day Slavery in their supply chain.

To this end, audit divisions of PwC Australia and DQS Australia have signed up to an initiative with Sedex, one of the world’s largest collaborative platforms for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains, including; individual site and company performance on worker’s rights, the environment, business ethics (such as anti-bribery and corruption) and the health and safety of workers of over 43,000 suppliers around the world to over 750 major corporates.

The three companies are all working on expanding the knowledge of the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) as it is one of the most widely used ethical audit formats in the world.

PwC Australia and DQS Australia will be the official companies delivering SMETA foundation workshop training on behalf of Sedex, covering Australasia.

Sedex’s aim is to simplify the process to get transparency of CSR performance in supply chains for businesses around the world, and enable risk analysis for buyer companies so that they can take action when a risk is identified in a supplying company.

“It is encouraging to see the Modern Day Slavery legislation progressing in Australia. We welcome the initiative with Australian audit firms PwC and DQS, who will be able to assess the sustainability performance of companies in the Asia-Pacific region. This will help to bring transparency on supply chain risk to buyer members in Australia and reduce workload on supplier members who will only need to complete one ethical audit rather than many.”

Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman, Sedex CEO

DQS Australia CEO Lance Brendon said “Social responsibility is no longer just a buzz word.  It is an integral part of business in today’s economy. We believe being socially responsible means that people and organisations behave ethically and with sensitivity towards social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.  Through our initiative with Sedex and our ability to provide foundation training, we hope to encourage companies to embrace these principles towards achieving corporate social responsibility.”


Media Contact:

Jessica McGoverne | Marketing Communications Executive | | Twitter: @SedexCSR

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