Modern slavery in New Zealand

Cases / 21 August 2020
Modern slavery in New Zealand

Modern slavery is a topical issue in New Zealand, as seen in a recent case in Hawkes Bay, where an employer was criminally charged with exploiting Samoan nationals and misleading them for his own financial gain. In that case, the term ‘slave’ was accepted as accurate in that the employer controlled the affected employees’ immigration status, restricted their movements and derived financial benefit from this. The employer was found guilty on 10 charges of human trafficking and 13 charges of slavery. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Act) was brought in to provide checks against slavery in supply chains, including in New Zealand based entities, where directors are required to implement protection against modern slavery and report on this.

Message for Employers

Modern slavery should be on the agenda for all companies, regardless of whether the Act applies, as all companies have a responsibility to ensure human rights and minimum employment rights are respected.  New Zealand businesses can look to the Australian framework to assess their own supply chain risk in respect of slavery, and take action to make changes to eliminate that risk.

For advice on steps to take, contact our team.

Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.


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