According to recent statistics there are 21 million people around the world trapped in some form of modern slavery by being forced to complete labour with either poor working conditions or very little or no pay. The term “Modern Slavery,” is used to describe various forms of slavery including trafficking and child labour. The UK has one of the highest numbers of known working slaves in Europe with an estimated 13,000 people working as slaves in industries such as agriculture; hospitality, private homes, care homes, construction and nail bars.
Whilst it is easy to think of Modern Slavery of something that is “out there” in other countries across the world, the reality is that is prevalent much closer to home. In the UK Construction Industry in particular, Modern Slavery is rife and being that the construction industry in the UK contributes around £103 billion in economic output it makes it a huge employer. The construction industry is particularly vulnerable because many of these types of workers are subcontracted through agencies. Whilst it may seem difficult to impart your company policies on people down the supply chain there are key standard protocols that can be taken to ensure compliance. Make sure you are engaging with responsible recruitment agencies and payroll intermediaries which perform due diligence on their workers as standard. Background checks on your suppliers should always be standard when engaging with any other businesses. For example, Core Finance Management has their Modern Slavery policy on their website and are professionally accredited by two leading compliance standards; so, you know the service you are receiving is of a professional standard.
As a responsible employer, Core Finance Management pledged our commitment to ensuring that Modern Slavery of any kind would not be tolerated within our supply chain back in 2017. We have driven this commitment forward by developing training for all employees on Modern Slavery awareness and ensuring that all our workers are paid at least the National Minimum Wage. We are also committed to working with our clients and agencies to perform quarterly welfare checks on those we are paying.
It is more important than ever to implement operating procedures for ensuring that you know who is working for you and to be able to identify the warning signs of modern slavery. People trapped in slavery are often vulnerable and not likely to assert their rights. It is important to encourage open dialogue with workers in your working environment, so they feel safe to confide their circumstances to you. Core Finance Management believe it is at a human level that we begin to tackle this problem, by asking what is wrong and making people feel safe to confide in you.
There are many key signs to spot potential victims of Modern Slavery, keep an eye out for groups of workers who have their wages paid into one bank account. These people are likely to be having their wages taken from them to pay for accommodation in substandard living arrangements, food and supposed repayment of debt. As part of our payroll procedures at Core we don’t allow multiple people to be paid into the same bank account as this is an obvious red flag to us.
Other key indicators include legal documents, is the person in charge of their own passport? Or are these being held by someone else? Again, here at Core Finance Management our compliance team operate a stringent check on all legal documents.
If you think you have identified a trafficker or illegal gangmaster you should call the police immediately by dialling 101 from any UK phone. For advice on how you can avoid employing victims of trafficking and how you can help ensure your supply chain is slave free, please contact Core Finance Management today and we will be able to help you safely navigate this topic.
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