18th October, each year, is marked as Anti-slavery day providing an opportunity for individuals, organisations, schools, businesses and charities to raise awareness of the risks to those individuals who’s status in the modern world would be recognised as modern day slavery. We as individuals and organisations and in particular employers, need to be aware and continue to raise awareness of these risks along with raising awareness of human trafficking and exploitation which even in this day and age continues to exist.
Modern Slavery within the workplace
Modern day slavery is a criminal offence in which victims are exploited for someone else’s gain. Since its introduction in 2015, the Modern Slavery Act has facilitated a key policy to increase awareness and in turn encouraged reporting of incidents which has contributed to the increase of potential victim numbers. During the year ending March 2019, the police in England and Wales registered 5,144 modern slavery offences, up 51% from the previous year. There has been a clear upsurge in the number of victims of modern-day slavery and it is the duty of every individual and organisation is to continue raising awareness and to report every incident. Slavery can take many forms and can include, but is by no means limited to; forcing individuals to work through physical and mental threats or controlling and retaining an employee under physical and mental abuse and duress. Other examples include, Sexual exploitation, human trafficking, forced labour, discrimination and harassment
- The Modern Slavery Helpline has seen a 68% rise in calls received and submissions made from the year ending December 2018 in comparison to the past year.
- The Police reported 5,144 modern slavery offences in England and Wales at the end of March 2019; a rise of 51% from the past year.
Policies and Advice for Employers
Slavery is a criminal offence affecting the vulnerable within our society and individuals, individuals who have to fight for their right to freedom. The 2015 Act’s prime aim is to prevent exploitation and increase transparency with duties of disclosure being imposed on certain employers and organisations. Notwithstanding legislation, ensuring the meeting of these basic human rights should be a consideration for all organisations.
For this very reason, polices have been introduced which employers must be aware of, implement the same and ensure controls are in place. It is important for every employer to continuously stress the importance of equality within the workplace and ensure a handbook is provided to each and every employee comprising of the terms and conditions of the business and highlighting the right to be treated fairly.
Employers must ensure they are constantly undertaking risk assessments, investigations, due diligence and training.
Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires organisations to devise a slavery and human trafficking statement each financial year. The statement must set out the steps undertaken by the organisation to combat slavery and human trafficking within the organisation and its supply chain.
Employers are required to devise a statement in pursuant to Section 54 if
- They supply goods and services
- Total turnover of £36 million per annum
- Carries on a business, or part of a business, in any part of the UK
- A body corporate partnership, wherever incorporated or formed
Within the statement, HR professionals must consider to:
- Reiterate their promise of tackling modern slavery
- Explain the organisational structure and supply chains
- Mention who is responsible for anti-slavery initiatives.
How Fairmont can assist?
Manoeuvring constantly changing scene of employment and HR legislation can be a daunting challenge but our team at Fairmont Legal are here to help. As an employer, you are under a duty to make sure that people within the workplace are treated fairly pursuant of The Equality Act 2010
Our specialist team can conduct an audit, gap analysis and risk assessment and equip your organisation with all the tools to be compliant. This can include policies, procedures, staff handbooks and contractual documentation. We can also assist with, statement of terms applications, harassment under The Equality Act 2010 andCriminal Proceedings under the Anti-Slavery Act and discrimination.
Fairmont Legal’s Employment and HR Team is on hand to help you and help you help others. Speak to a member of the team by calling 01204 866597 or email [email protected] for a free consultation today.