At the start of the year, a National Crime Agency investigation led to an arrest of a 49-year-old man on suspicion of modern slavery offences within the construction industry, safeguarding 11 potential victims.
This investigation highlighted that not only are cases of modern slavery on the rise in the construction sector, but also that crimes concerning modern slavery are growing higher on the Government’s crack-down agenda.
What this means for you?
Due to the growing prevalence of modern slavery in the industry, businesses need to be more vigilant about procuring the services of contractors, tracking who they use to source their labour and ensuring they have robust systems and controls in place throughout their supply chain to make sure they are not facilitating this kind of behaviour.
As the Government looks to tackle slavery and human trafficking taking place in businesses and their supply chains, each year companies with a turnover of more than £36 million must now ensure they have an up-to-date modern slavery statement on their website.
Those who don’t have an updated statement on their websites as of 31 March 2019 run the risk of being named and shamed on the Government’s list of organisations that have failed to publish a statement.
Research has shown that only 60% of businesses have published a statement, but many of these are of poor quality or fail to meet basic legal requirements.
Victoria Atkins, the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, has said that while some businesses “are already leading the way in taking action by being open and transparent about what they are doing to identify, tackle and prevent forced labour in their supply chains, too many are still failing to meet their basic legal obligations”.
Why it’s good practice to have a modern slavery statement
While only businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million need to publish a modern slavery statement on their website, it is prudent to ask companies within your supply chain what they are doing to tackle modern slavery. Good supply chain management is key here.
If they are not doing anything to tackle modern slavery, you should consider the reputational impact this could have on your business, as well as the impact on their ability to do the work effectively.
Even if the contractors within your supply chain aren’t required to publish statements on their website as per the government stipulation, it is still prudent to ensure they have a statement within their armoury.
This protects them but also you.
What should statements include?
Best practice dictates that statements should focus on six areas:
Structure and supply chains
Policies on modern slavery
Due diligence processes
How we can support you?
Modern slavery statements and policies is one of the pieces of information collected and verified by our online contractor management system, SafePQQ, along with financial, environment, quality management, equality, GDPR, anti-bribery, right to work, building information modelling and references.
We provide insight into your supply chain and greater visibility of your compliance risks so you can effectively monitor, manage and make an informed decision about who you work with.
We vet thousands of contractors across the UK, so you don’t have to, leaving you free to get on with growing your business – safely, responsibly and ethically.