Welsh government mandates supply chain transparency on slavery

10th March 2017


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Author

Andrew Fowler

Businesses supplying public sector bodies in Wales will be required to train procurement staff in ethical employment practices and report annually on action taken to ensure supply chains are slavery free.

The government has drawn up a mandatory code of practice for public sector bodies, private companies supplying them and third-sector organisations receiving public funding. Other organisations and businesses in Wales will be encouraged to also sign the code.

The Welsh public sector spends around £6bn every year on goods, services and works involving international supply chains, according to the government.

The code will take Welsh firms beyond requirements under the Modern Slavery Act, which became law in March 2015. The act covers only businesses with an annual turnover of £36m.

The code covers modern slavery and human rights abuses; blacklisting of employees who raise concerns; false self-employment status; unfair use of zero-hours contracts; and failure to pay the living wage. Signatories would need to adopt 12 commitments to meet the code. These include:

  • Produce a written policy on ethical employment for its own organisation and suppliers that is communicated throughout the business and reviewed each year. An anti-slavery and ethical employment champion should be appointed.
  • Ensure employees in procurement roles receive training on anti-slavery and ethical employment practices, and keep a list of those who have received the training.
  • Ensure the way an organisation works with its suppliers does not encourage illegal or unethical practices, such as not applying cost and time pressures.
  • Publish an annual written statement, signed off by a senior manager or member of the board, outlining steps taken in the past year, and future action, to ensure that there is no modern slavery in the supply chain.
  • Expect suppliers to also sign up to the code of practice.

The government has recommended that organisations log their annual statements on the online database, https://ticsreport.org. All data on the registry is searchable and registration is free for public sector and small organisations.

Half of all receipts from bigger commercial organisations will be spent on funding frontline anti-slavery work by charity Unseen, which runs a helpline supporting the victims.

Martin Mansfield, general secretary of the Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC), said: ‘This new code of practice is a very welcome step on the way to ensuring that Wales becomes a “fair work nation”.

‘This code is an indication that Wales will not tolerate exploitation. Now we need similar action to ensure decent work and fair treatment are the only way in Wales.’

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