Modern Slavery and Construction: the future

October 17, 2020 10:15 am, Published by , Comments Off on Modern Slavery and Construction: the future

Modern Slavery is a term used in the UK since 2015 when the UK Modern Slavery Act was passed into law. The Act consolidated previous existing offences and defines slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour as “requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that ‘the person knows or ought to know’ that this is happening”. In addition, section 54 of the Act legally requires businesses operating in the UK with a turnover of £36million and above to lay out the steps they are taking to address Modern Slavery in their business and their supply chain in an annual Modern Slavery statement.

To date, compliance with section 54 has been low.  Following and Independent Review and subsequent consultation, the UK Government has committed to introducing a number of ‘next steps’ in order ‘to strengthen section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015’. This includes:

  • Mandatory reporting for public bodies that have a budget of £36 million and above – a step the central government took earlier this year. 
  • A single reporting deadline for all organisations to publish their statements.
  • Mandating what factors should be reported on in a Modern Slavery statement.
  • An online registry for all Modern Slavery statements.

It also remains unclear the impact that Brexit and Covid-19 will have on Modern Slavery in the construction industry, however, Stronger Together will continue to work with our development partner the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and programme sponsors Carey Group, Multiplex, Saint-Gobain, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Willmott Dixon, to drive industry-wide capability to tackle Modern Slavery. We collaborate with organisations to support them to tackle Modern Slavery in their own business and their supply chains.

Stronger Together continues to develop resources and training to support implementation of our Six-step Strategic Framework, aligned to the United Nations Guidance and Principles, including:

  • Site educationfree pragmatic resources, including worker posters and free templates support businesses to address Modern Slavery risks.
  • Assessing the risk – using the Tackling Modern Slavery in Construction Toolkit to risk assess all levels of the supply chain from labour to materials.
  • Training teams – through sector-specific training the programmes aims to ensure construction businesses understand Modern Slavery, your responsibilities, how it affects your business and a best practice framework for tackling it.

Construction Steering Group comments:

‘Stronger Together is proud to be working with our partners to drive sector-wide awareness and capability to tackle Modern Slavery in Construction.  We collaborate with organisations of all sizes, providing guidance, training and resources to deter and detect Modern Slavery in their own business and their supply chains.’Pamela Zielinski, Stronger Together Construction Programme Manager

‘It is so critical that we continue to collaborate with our industry partners to influence meaningful and genuine change to combat modern slavery and all forms of labour exploitation. The Stronger Together Construction Working Group provides us with a platform for collaborative engagement to promote industry wide-solutions. Our recent focus at Multiplex has been on action, auditing and building capacity within our supply chain. We are proud to have developed our Ethical Labour Management System supported by operationally focused toolkits, due diligence processes, enhanced grievance mechanisms and training programs for our people and supply chain.’ – Stephen Smith, Executive Director – Health and Safety, Environment and Quality

Organisations that want to take a leadership approach and help shape the Construction programme are invited to contact us to find out more about the benefits of becoming a Programme Sponsor. Together we can reduce forced labour, labour trafficking and other hidden third-party labour exploitation of workers in supply chains.

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