Many employers are shocked to find out that the Modern Slavery Act may be relevant to them. But if you are a business that employs casual labour in some areas of fresh food warehousing or agriculture, or work in the supply chain for these industries, you need to be aware of the regulations.
‘Modern Slavery’ is a form of human trafficking, where people are forced to work through physical or mental threat; are controlled by an employer through actual or threatened mental and physical abuse or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement, for example by having their passports taken away.
Modern Slavery in the news
Horror stories about the mistreatment of vulnerable workers have hit the headlines recently, but those of us who run law-abiding businesses are unlikely to think that this has anything to do with us. However, in a climate where that there has been a five-fold increase in victims of modern slavery since 2012, with 55% of cases involving labour (Source: National Crime Agency), it’s not surprising that there is now tighter legislation in this area.
Writing a Modern Slavery Statement
The Modern Slavery Act came into effect in 2015. As part of the Act, from 6th April 2017, any businesses in the UK with a turnover of £36m or more per annum will have to write a statement outlining their anti-slavery policy and publish it within six months of their financial year-end.
Whilst it is currently only mandatory for large companies to have a Modern Slavery Statement, smaller organisations which have contracts with eligible companies are likely to be asked to supply a statement as they form part of the supply chain. Depending on your business, it may also be worth preparing a policy or statement even if you don’t currently supply large companies as it means you will be ready to go through due diligence if you tender for a new piece of business from an organisation that requires its suppliers to have one.
There is a useful guide that explains what you need to include in a Modern Slavery Statement in Personnel Today.
As a small employer, Priority Appointments does not have to have a Modern Slavery Statement. However, we do publish a policy which explains to our clients and candidates how we are committed to vigilance against abusive labour practices, providing training for our team so that they can look out for and report any inappropriate policies.
Gangmasters Licensing Authority
Licenses issued by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), a public body that answers to the Home Office, are a key part of preventing modern slavery and other immoral labour practices. The Authority is currently evolving to become the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), retaining its licensing and regulatory function but with a broader role to investigate and enforce suspected cases of modern slavery across the labour market.
Some employment agencies and other labour providers may need a GLA license when supplying to certain sectors – there is a useful guide about who needs a license on the GLA website.
The onus is on companies to show that they are aware of modern slavery legislation and to show that they only source labour from legitimate sources. They also need to show that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that it doesn’t take place in any of their supplier organisations.
You can read our Modern Slavery Policy here.