Combatting modern slavery

Thursday 21st January 2021

If you are an Archers fan you will be following the storyline of Philip Moss – a modern slave trader and human trafficker.

Most of us would not consider that modern slavery would feature in our supply chains but it is possible and businesses should do all they can to guard against it.

The Modern Slavery Act requires large organisations (those with a global turnover above £36million), to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement every year. They have to set out what steps they are taking to ensure the human trafficking and slavery is not taking place in their supply chains.

The issue is not limited to major corporations. All businesses should be alert to the red flags and take steps to combat it.

Red flags may include:

● A supplier who refuses to participate in due diligence

● Below market value costs without genuine justification

● Failure to be able to provide contracts of employment for staff

● Failure to allow visits to premises

● Employment of a large proportion of young workers

● Employment of a large proportion of migrant workers

● Poor working conditions

If you do come into contact with the workforce then look out for signs of control by management – living arrangements, keeping documents “safe”, control of spending of money. Look out for behavioural signs – are workers appearing frightened? Are they allowed to interact with you? Are there physical signs of abuse?

Smaller businesses can publish a voluntary statement, but a piece of paper is not worth anything unless you implement practical steps and processes – these include carrying out due diligence on your suppliers, including appropriate clauses in contracts, training staff on what to recognise and reporting genuine suspicions to the police.