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Majority of CHAS Members Implemented Modern Slavery Policies 

Majority of CHAS Members Implemented Modern Slavery Policies 
13 October 2021 | Updated 18 October 2021
 

Whilst 72 per cent of 229 CHAS member companies, the majority of whom are SMEs within the construction sector, have a modern slavery policy, there is still much more to be done.

Awareness of the importance of addressing modern slavery is high among construction SMEs, but there is a need to move beyond policy to action according to research carried out by CHAS, in conjunction with the University of Nottingham Rights Lab.

CHAS and the Rights Lab surveyed a sample of 229 CHAS member companies, to assess current knowledge and awareness of modern slavery along with actions taken to address this problem and identify opportunities for improving engagement.

The results showed the following:

  • 72 per cent of respondents confirming they have implemented a modern slavery policy. 
  • 39 per cent of those surveyed said they were conducting due diligence to address this issue within their businesses and supply chains and have done so for more than six months.
  • Almost one fifth (17 per cent) of businesses said their organisation has no intention to carry out due diligence in the foreseeable future
  • 50 per cent of respondents stated that they currently have no intention to measure KPIs related to modern slavery.
  • Two thirds (66 per cent) of participants said they do not feel pressure from the government and large businesses to address modern slavery.
  • 67 per cent stated they do not feel pressure from consumers and other civil society actors to address the issue.

 

Drivers of Anti-Slavery Action

 

When it comes to drivers of anti-slavery action, several factors may come into play, including legislative and regulatory, operational and commercial, and reputational drivers to encourage business action. It is possible the vast majority of respondents have a modern slavery policy because of requirements by clients or contracts, particularly by large organisations captured by the modern slavery legislation. 

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 only requires companies with an annual turnover of £36 million or more to report on steps taken to address the risk. However, CHAS believes that with over 90 per cent of all businesses in the construction sector represented by SMEs, supporting these organisations to manage modern slavery effectively is vital to improving the sector's record on this issue.

 

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To support this goal, CHAS is working with the Rights Lab to establish a range of tools and resources to help construction SMEs take positive action to understand, manage, mitigate and eliminate the risk of modern slavery and labour exploitation in the construction supply chain. 

The University of Nottingham Rights Lab is known as the home of the world's leading modern slavery experts and has built a large-scale research platform for ending slavery.

A link to the full briefing can be accessed here.

 

Why are SMEs so Significant in Fighting Modern Slavery?

 

SMEs in the UK represent a combined turnover of £2 trillion, and the University of Nottingham Rights Lab argues that this places them in a unique and critical position to respond to modern slavery.

The government has expressed a commitment to ensuring that 33 per cent spend of its own supply chain is contracted with SMEs by 2022, and has recognised the importance of both private and public sector bodies in engaging smaller businesses to tackle modern slavery. However, to engage SMEs, there is a need for further research on the barriers and challenges faced by them in engaging with the antislavery agenda, as well as opportunities for engagement and the specific support they need.

Picture: a photograph of a pair of hands in handcuffs. The photograph is monchrome.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 13 October 2021

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