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How to prevent slavery in business; a guide for companies from our criminal solicitor
19 May 2023

Slavery is a shameful and inhumane practice that, unfortunately, still exists in many parts of the world. As a business owner, it is crucial to be aware of the risks of forced labour and human trafficking within your supply chain. This awareness will enable you to take steps to identify and address any potential issues.

Assessing overseas practices for slavery can be challenging, especially if you are dealing with suppliers from countries where there are no adequate legal protections against forced labour. However, there are several steps that you can take to help you identify and prevent these practices.

Remember, if you have any concerns about slavery occurring anywhere in your supply chain, you will need to contact our criminal solicitor for advice. Or, if you have discovered that your business has inadvertently been accused of supporting slavery in another country, our team at ABV Solicitors will be happy to offer legal advice.

So, how can you spot slavery practices? Here are some tips from our criminal solicitor.

Conduct thorough due diligence

Before engaging with any potential suppliers, conduct a thorough due diligence process that includes a review of their employment practices, health and safety records, and labour standards. This process should also include an evaluation of any subcontractors that the supplier may use. If you aren’t sure how best to do this or need some guidance, please contact our criminal solicitor.

Engage with your suppliers

Engage with your suppliers to develop a clear understanding of their employment practices and the steps they take to prevent forced labour. This engagement should include regular site visits, employee interviews, and an evaluation of their policies and procedures. Or, it may involve contacting someone who is in the country of production to run checks for you. Be sure to report everything that is said, and keep hold of any photos or documentation that is sent to you.

Implement a supplier code of conduct

Implement a supplier code of conduct that sets out the minimum standards that your suppliers must adhere to. This code should include a prohibition on forced labour and human trafficking and should require suppliers to provide regular reports on their compliance. If your suppliers do not adhere to this, aim to report this to the authorities and cease trading with them immediately.

Train your employees

Train your employees to be aware of the risks of forced labour and human trafficking, and to report any concerns that they may have. This training should also include an understanding of the legal obligations and requirements that apply to your business, including the Modern Slavery Act and other relevant legislation.

Conduct regular audits

Conduct regular audits of your supply chain to ensure that your suppliers are complying with your supplier code of conduct and to identify any potential issues. These audits should be conducted by a third party to ensure their impartiality and effectiveness. Also, work with other organisations to share information and best practices for identifying and preventing forced labour and human trafficking within your supply chain. This collaboration could include industry associations, trade unions, and NGOs.

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