It’s Anti-Slavery Day on 18th October, so I wanted to shine a light on the modern slavery that exists in the UK, which includes the freelancer and contractor industry. The UK has one of the highest numbers of known working slaves in Europe – the key word here being ‘known’; there will be more that exists. And construction is one of the sectors it’s most prominent in – likely due to many workers being subcontracted through agencies.
In this blog, I explore what the contractor and freelancer industry can do to ensure they’re following modern slavery legislation. Let’s start with what Anti-Slavery Day is all about, and why it’s important.
What is Anti-Slavery Day?
The purpose of Anti-Slavery Day is to promote awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery. Many people still believe it’s something that happens in other countries, but as I’ve already mentioned, it’s very prevalent here. The most recent statistics show that there were 10,613 potential victims of modern slavery referred to the National Referral Mechanism.
Anti-Slavery Day also exists to encourage the government, local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to strive to address the problem. For business owners, it’s not just their own organisation they need to think about – they must take note of their supply chain, too.
Conduct due diligence
Step one is to ensure that every member of your supply chain is compliant. Carry out your own due diligence by performing checks on your suppliers, such as recruitment agencies and payroll intermediaries. Look for accreditations like compliance standards, and a modern slavery policy on their website. If they haven’t got these, you need to ask why.
Likewise, you should have a modern slavery policy on your own website. Not only will this ensure you’re following up-to-date legislation, it also assures those in your supply chain that you’re serious about the subject.
Confirming that all new contractors have the right to work in the UK is key, as is performing digital identity checks. IDSPs were changed in April, allowing right-to-work checks to be carried out remotely. Even if these are passed, you should be able to spot signs of suspicious activity, such as groups of workers having their wages paid into the same bank account, or the name on the account not matching the worker. Other signs are being dropped off for work or collected in groups, and having the same number or one address between a large group. They should also have legal documents, for instance being in charge of their own passport.
Don’t forget to look into the organisation too. Make sure that the company registration number (CRN) is legitimate by looking at the Companies House database. You should also check to see if they’ve ever been convicted of any offences involving modern slavery.
Ensuring compliance from our members
Here at FCSA, we take modern slavery very seriously, and make sure all our members adhere to the legislation. If you’d like to know more about the Codes of Compliance that our members follow, get in touch with our friendly team today. Or to find out more about us, take a look around our website.
If you suspect a case of modern slavery, please contact the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline free on 08000 121 700.